A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop, (which was an excellent workshop by the way). However, there was a group session which involved working in pairs and with well over a dozen pairs of people in the room, it was obviously very noisy. So noisy in fact, that I almost had to ask the person I was paired with, if we could go outside of the room to talk.
I persevered and managed to catch about one word in ten, supplemented with a bit of lip reading. However, the noise amplified by my hearing aids was deafening.
Then came the plenary ‘feedback’ session, which was okay when people were talking on the tables near to me, but it was very difficult to hear people offering comments from more than one table away.
After the first hour I could feel a headache developing and my concentration dipping. My neck also started hurting from having to swivel around in my chair to try and face people on different tables as they spoke. (Because my hearing aids have forward facing microphones to aid conversation, it means that I can’t hear very much from behind).
The air conditioning and fans around the room were also loud and at intervals, my hearing aids latched onto the noise they were making too. All in all, it was a very noisy day, demanding lots of concentration. I left as I always do from these kinds of events, with a blinding headache and feeling exhausted.
Subsequent to this, I’ve heard about the Phonak Roger pen system which is designed for use in a work environment and is a wireless microphone that can be used either on a 360 basis (by placing it on a table) or on a more directional basis, by holding it and pointing it at the person speaking, to cut across noisy backgrounds. The pen sends sound either direct to integrated receivers that can be plugged into your Phonak hearing aid or, alternatively, through a more universal Bluetooth neckloop. The system also allows for additional microphones to be added and these can be placed around larger rooms to pick up more widespread conversations.
So, if you struggle with hearing conversations and discussions in meetings, this is something you should definitely look into. Ask for an assessment by Access to Work and talk to them about whether the Roger pen system might be a good solution for you. I know it’s something I’ll be looking into further.
Alternatively, if you just want to go ahead and buy it privately, then you can buy it at either Connevans or Action on Hearing Loss for around the same price (£665). Remember – check if you’re able to claim for a VAT exemption which will make it a bit cheaper.
If you already have a Roger pen, please share your views on it. Would you recommend it to others?
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Featured image adapted from “MTBC Cloud SIG Breakfast Club Oct 2014” by Grant Wickes, CC-BY-2.0.