Conference rooms- AARGH!

Hi all,
I am hoping someone can please provide me some advice on hearing in conference rooms. I am 32 and have severe otosclerosis in both ears. I cannot hear people in conference rooms at all (unless they are naturally loud). Not even the person sitting next to me if they turn their head away. My current hearing aids are not helpful for my type of hearing loss. Unfortunately, the audiologist who sold me this brand left two months later and the remaining audiologists don’t know how to work with them. The new audiologist wants to sell me a new pair (~1 1/2 year later). I don’t want to find myself in the same position of just buying another pair that doesn’t meet this primary necessity.
When I discuss my problems with hearing in conference rooms, none of the audiologists I have seen (5 total) have said anything about “bootstraps” and amplifiers (items I saw posted elsewhere in this forum).
Can anyone please provide me with advice/recommendations for hearing people (principally people who speak softly and low) in conference rooms that hold ~ 30 people?
Thank you so much!

Donna: I am an old bird and have had problems in conference and classrooms for years with every aid and ALD I have tried. The problem is manifold. Most conference rooms and class rooms are reverberant which compounds the problem. And many participants talk too softly or do not pronounce their words carefully.

The only way I can successfully participate is to use a home made assistive listening device (ALD). The mikes on the commercial ALD’s are not directional enough to cut out the echo’s and extraneous noises.

My rig consists of a little battery powered amp,a very directional large mike, and a neck loop feeding the telecoil in my aids. Works like a charm. Parts cost about $220. Ed

You can set a small microphone transmit in the middle of the table and wear the receiver as an earpiece. If the problem is more severe, there are loops available where you can run a wire underneath the whole table and it transmits to your t-coil. If you have been at your job long enough and are on good terms, your employer should cover the cost under the ADA.

Personally I use a smartlink w/ FM for my Phonaks, though that is a pricey option (like 2 grand).

Thank you to both of you for the advice regarding the ALDs. Does anything interfere with them or does it interfere with anything else? During these meetings there are usually many blackberrys and laptops in use. Will the microphone pick up people that are about 20 feet behind it as well as in front?

I work with many women and men who have foreign dialects and speak very softly and mumble (everyone agrees on the mumbling, its not just my hearing loss). I don’t care if I am wearing a huge tuba on my head, but based on my experience with telecons, people are loathe to speak up if they feel they are on “stage” and I am worried people will resent it, how obtrusive is the microphone?

Thanks so much, Donna

Regarding the Smartlink…I just looked it up and it seems the way to go…am I correct in believing this would hook up to my current hearing aids (SeboTeks) and that I don’t need to purchase Phonaks?

And do I need to purchase the system from an audiologist?
Thanks in advance, Donna

You need a transmitter and a receiver.

The SmartLink is the transmitter. I got mine for $1,100 through Aetna HearPo though you can buy it for $1,000 if you shop around the net.

For receivers, you could either:
Buy an FM-DAI boot for your aid, this is around $1,000 for one, $2 grand for both.
Buy the Phonak MyLink for about $600. The MyLink will transmit to your telecoil.

If you go to an audi these prices will likely be much more expensive.

I’m not certain you need the SmartLink just for the conference room, you could conceivably get the ZoomLink which does the same thing, it just won’t pair with your cell phone.

These guys sell a ZoomLink/MyLink bundle for $1,500:

I don’t conceive it would be a problem just buying them yourself, since the Zoomlink will go to the Mylink, which will go directly to your t-coils, though I would double check with the store people. My audi told me the bundle requires no or minimal programming so the audis should not be taking a huge cut on this.

Any one else have cheaper suggestions?

As far as people mumbling, they need to speak clearly. Communication is a two-way street.

Thanks very much for your help! Your information was truly invaluable. If only for the recommendation that work might pay for it. I looked into it, and in fact under the Reasonable Accommodations Law, they have to supply me with an assistive listening device. (What ALD still remains…) but thanks, Donna

you can try amigo t5 amigo r5 from oticon it is rather cheap
williamson also sell a very inexpensive recervier and transmiter


I would strongly recommend seeking someone who could adjust your current aids. Usually people with otosclerosis are excellent hearing aids candidates. That doesn’t mean that hearing aids always work perfectly for people with this type of a loss, but the fact that you can’t hear the person next to you with the aids is terrible. Perhaps the devices need repair. My personal experience with Sebotek was that the devices became much weaker (likely the receivers) after about a year. I sent them back, reprogrammed them, and patients did much better.

I certainly think that a smartlink and ALDs/FM systems are great recommendations, unfortunately, if you have Seboteks, I don’t think that there is a boot that fits and allows that direct input.

Feel free to PM me if this doesn’t make sense, but I would try to have the aids repaired or reprogrammed.

Best of luck.