Hearing Aids with Unified Communications (UC) In Open Office Setting (Challenges with Headsets)


#1

Hello Everyone. I have moderate to severe hearing loss and wear Widex Beyond BTE hearing aids with a custom receiver. I used to leverage the Com-Dex that I paired via Bluetooth with my office Cisco desk phone. This was a great set up until I was forced to move into an open office environment and the mic on the Com-Dex simply did not provide adequate noise cancelation give the open office environment. There was always background noise (hissing) that was attributed to my attending either video or voice calls that I could isolate simply by going on mute. My job requires me to chair several voice and video calls globally with several (30+) people.

The problem of background noise for participants of these voice and video calls was not limited to my personal situation but for almost everyone globally who is in an open office or noisy environment.

The solution is having found a noise canceling headset with an adequate noise canceling mic for my desk phone. As I wear BTE hearing aids, finding an over the ear headset without feedback was a challenge. I happen to have a very large head as which makes it even more challenging. I was able to find an excellent headset (Jabra Evolve 80) that is over the ear and has one of the best noise canceling mics I’ve used.

The problem is I have to dangle my BTE devices and position the headset that isn’t comfortable or can be kept in that position for the day (I am literally on video/voice calls at least 6 hours a day).

Issue Most of the high end hearing aid manufacturers offer a decent product or solution for pairing hearing aids with their mobile phones or home phones. They even offer some pairing solution such as a neckloop device that can pair via Bluetooth, however, the noise canceling capabilities are not adequate for an open workplace environment. I have reached out to several manufacturers who simply push existing products or offer a solution that cannot be easily integrated into an enterprise workplace environment.

Question for Forum Does anybody have experience integrating their hearing aids for streaming voice as well as a microphone to an enterprise class Unified Communication Solution?


#2

Update - I am working directly with an engineer from Jabra to test a few options. I have tried to reach out to Widex via their website, but went nowhere. My audiologist is helping me identify the appropriate contacts with the product teams there as well.

This should not be dependent on any manufacturer but a brand agnostic integration option for what I have to believe would be potentially hundreds of users.


#3

Perhaps not directly related, I’ve used a Cisco IP phone at work and certain models have Bluetooth enabled. With my Oticon hearing aids at the time, I could stream audio into my aids and speak directly into the phone or the Streamer now called Connect Clip for their microphone. Would that be an acceptable solution than the Jabra headphones?


#4

Unfortunately this is OEM specific. I am very happy with Widex. They do have a few accessories that also pair via BT, however, the noise cancelation is inadequate. I would like a solution that is OEM agnostic that can work for anyone with hearing aids.


#5

I can pair my Phonaks, via streamer (ComPilot II and Compilot Air II) to an AT&T Landline. If it is background noise you are picking up, I’m wondering if there is not a setting that be adjusted via your Audi to turn down the mic in your streamer a notch or two?


#6

unfortunately there’s not much you can do. The mic on the Com-Dex is extremely sensitive and I’m in an open office area and you could literally here what people are saying a few rows away. There’s always a constant hissing noise (background) on all of the Dex series. I’ve actually found an over the ear headset that fits wells and doesn’t give me significant feedback. Bose headsets are a perfect fit for me, however, their built in mics offer poor noise cancelation and won’t work well. Many of my colleagues who do not wear hearing aids also tried many of the higher end headsets like Bose but revert to a Jabra or Platonics as they offer significantly better noise cancelation.


#7

Hello gsynyc. I have exactly the same problem that you describe, so I am wondering how you got along with Jabra back in February this year. I am new to hearing aids - just had them fitted two weeks ago, and my audiologist recommended Com Pilot II for my Phonak hearing aids. But it’s not cheap, and so I don’t want to buy something that won’t do the job! Like you, I spend much of my day on conference calls and web meetings. Unlike you, most of the time I’m either in my home office with two dogs who like to “join in”, or I’m in an airport lounge or taxi or train somewhere, where there’s plenty of background noise.


#8

I also use Phonak and the Com Pilot 2. On the phone side I use a Plantronics MDA200 with an SSP2714-01 Bluetooth dongle.

I have a lapel Mic connected to the Com Pilot 2 and have it clipped pretty close to my mouth. My callers and people on meetings say it sounds like I’m on a handset. There is no speakerphone effect. With this method you can experiment with microphones until you find one that works for your situation.


#9

Don’t know how you’d use it with HA’s and phones but I just want to put in a plug for the best noise-canceling microphone headset I’ve ever used - and I’ve tried a number to go with Dragon Naturally Speaking.

It’s from a decade ago (2006). A Shure T1G-V, labeled as a “Guitarist Transmitter” -that was the base unit, the mic that goes with it might be yet another model (WH20). It’s the sort of thing a rock singer or an aerobics instructor would wear in a cacophonous environment so that the voice of the singer or instructor could be heard above the incredible din of pounding music and rapturous audience or students pumping and jumping. It’s a transmitter/base arrangement with the transmitter clipped to your belt with a wire running to the clip-on around-the-head mic placed within a thumbs-width of your mouth, off to the side. It eats 9 volt batteries but you can use a rechargeable Li-ion gray market 9V battery (search the Internet or Amazon). The base station runs off a 3.5 mm jack input to your computer microphone port. You’re free to roam within a good distance of your computer. I’ve used one in years gone by in a noisy office environment but never went very far from my computer using it. Have no idea how to interface one with a phone system but the noise-cancelling properties were pretty amazing. But since then I’ve favored an old Andrea array mic whose noise-cancelling properties are not as good but I can just park it on top of my partly opened laptop lid while using a big screen monitor and I don’t have to wear the Andrea and can eat and drink without having the mic get in the way. The Andrea array mic only cost me $28 on Amazon as an obsolete piece of computer equipment whereas the Shure was $170 or so and may have been at the time obsolete, over-stock from a third-party reseller.

I see that Shure is still in business with an updated line of products so based on my experience with the T1G-V and WH20 mic, if Shure can be interfaced with a phone system and/or HA’s, I’d recommend looking into their products for a great noise-cancelling mic - but it won’t be cheap! As I remember, the replay of my voice in Dragon Naturally Speaking sounded pretty good from this setup.

The mic is still being sold:

The T1G-V is discontinued:
http://www.microphones.com/microphone.cfm?urlid=1770

Update:: Noticed the Shure WH20 is also sold on Amazon, too. Lots of reviews there, too, as well as product specs with graphic illustrations. Seems a number of reviewers think that the Shure SM58, which is a handheld/clip-on stand mic is even better but the WH20, worn on the head, gives you a lot more freedom.

The following review was found just by searching on “review broadcast microphones” and mentions Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, and Shure models amongst others - claims article was last updated 11/15/18. A really high-end modern Shure rig, similar to the much older setup that I used will just set you back a mere $549, as priced on Amazon https://www.micreviews.com/guides/top-10-best-wireless-microphones
I don’t see noise-cancelling properties mentioned for the Shure model in the review, though.

Update02: I just got the Shure setup as other Dragon users at the time said it worked great. Didn’t even know what a cardioid mic does. But here’s a great run-down for audio noobs like me on what a cardioid mic does: Microphone Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Figure-8


#10

Remember hearing loss is a disability covered under the United States ADA. Your employer must make reasonable accommodation for you.

Unfortunately when I was moved to a very noisy environment hindering my work, my manager would not help. Due to ADA our Human Resources department got involved and I got a much better setting.

Our office is now being redesigned as an open environment. Due to HR’s ADA involvement they are designing a reduced noise area for me near my team.

Just another thought.


#11

Thanks Don. I wasn’t aware that you can add a mic to the Com Pilot. Which one do you use? Does assume it plugs in with a wire??


#12

I bought a cheap mic on Amazon. The brand is Miracle Sound. It is a trrs mic and the Compilot needs a trs mic so I also bought a trrs to trs adapter. It works great but if I did it again I would buy the right style.

Yes, it plugs into the bottom of the Compilot 2.


#13

Translation: Understanding TRRS and Audio Jacks - Cable Chick Blog


#14

Apologies for the delayed response. Earlier this year after having my annual hearing test with my Audiologist she wrote a letter to my employer and as you noted hearing loss is covered under the ADA. Health Services and HR got involved and I was given a small office and a Point to Point Cisco Teleprence with an amazing Bluetooth speakerphone setup. This addresses my issue, but does not address the issue for the countless number of people who have the same problem and eventually the company will need to address it for more people. They can’t give everyone an office!


#15

My Widex Com-Dex worked wonderfully with Bluetooth connectivity direct to the Cisco Deskphone, but the issue was the noise cancellation on the mic was horrible in an open setting. I could hear everyone wonderfully, but everyone on my calls could hear everything that was happening around me.

The challenge will always be not only for hearing the audio, but also what the others hear on your end. Just something to consider.


#16

Hi @andy.crosland. I used to have Phonak and an earlier iCom Bluetooth neckloop that streamed to my hearing aids. It was one of the first devices I used. It was great, but there was a delay in the initial connection to my phone each call. This was several years ago and I’m sure they had addresses those earlier issues.

I assume you may have a trial period where if you’re not happy with the device you can return it. I’ve always had options to trial anything (even my hearing aids) for a period of time before making such an investment.

That said, it sounds like you work from home more than in the office. You may have more control with your environment at home, but trial the Com Pilot in your home office, outside, and where ever you may be making calls to see if and the others on the other end of the call can hear you clearly.

I work from home on occasion as well and am on multiple telepresence calls from my PC. I have found that the Jabra 710 speakerphone is an excellent device that has a USB and Bluetooth capabilities. I actually have one in my office at work as well which is paired to my Cisco PTP, my Cisco UC Deskphone, and connected to my PC. It’s an excellent speakerphone. The sound is clear on both sides of the call and people are not aware they are on speakerphone. It’s lightweight and travels well and has a USB dongle as well that’s pre-paired. I find it extremely convenient.

Hope this helps a bit.

Regards,
Gene


#17

I tried the Phone Clip+with Bluetooth on my KS6 aids but the phone clip microphone is junk for phone calls.
I end up using Cisco Call Manager Mobility to redirect my desk phone to my iPhone and then I use the MFi feature of my KS6 aids, listening to the call in my HAs.

We will see what works after I get my KS8s next week & return to work after the new year.


#18

There may have been a problem with yours. I used the Phone Clip+ for many years and my callers reported good results. It does not do heavy noise limiting so if you are calling from loud environments it will pick up background noises and send those to your callers.

The Phonak Compilot 2 allows you to connect a lapel Mic or a boom Mic. If that Mic was noise limiting (like an aviation mic) it could be used in a loud environment. The Compilot 2 is looking for a trs mic so a trrs mic must have an adapter.

The Rexton Smart Mic is, in my opinion, not as good as the Phone Clip+. The Compilot 2 is better than both, in my opinion.