This being my first post, I’d like to complement everyone involved on creating such an incredibly useful website and forum. Thanks!!!
I’m a 70 year old social system researcher, working at home, collaborating virtually via email, phone, and Skype. I noticed my hearing loss was beginning to cause small problems, so got my first test last year at Costco. The audiogram showed moderate loss from 3K and up. I tried an in-store demo aid (cannot recall which model) for an hour and detected no benefit. (Now after reading this forum I see it takes weeks or months to retrain the brain to process the superior sound provided by a good HA. Plus adjustments to the HA are required.) So I didn’t get a HA.
In early November of 2019 I attended an international (English speaking) conference in Oaxaca, Mexico. I was astonished at how hard it was for me to understand anyone with a foreign accent, especially through a microphone when they were presenting. The most common accents were Spanish, German, English (as opposed to American), Australian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, etc.
The problem was so bad it caused cognitive overload. By the time I had partially “translated” one sentence, the speaker was on to the next. I was unable to dedicate brain power to processing what they were saying as a whole. I’d estimate I was able to translate 60% to 80% of words correctly, depending on the accent, the quality of the person’s English, the quality of the mic system, and room acoustics. The net result was I was unable to follow anyone but an American/Australian/English English speaker at the talks, which was most of the speakers. (Despite that it was a successful conference and our two papers were well received and understood.)
In one-on-one conversations I did much better, usually just fine, unless the person had poor English skills.
At noisy restaurants I had lots of problems. This is true back home in the states.
I have an appointment with Costco for December 7. I will get a new hearing test and expect to try the Kirkland Signature 9s. As I recall they used REM last time for HA adjustment.
How can I tell how much of this problem is due to my unfamiliarity with foreign accents and how much is due to hearing loss?
How can I measure how much a HA helps, once I get past the brain retraining phase? (The next similar conference is a year away.)
Does anyone have experience in how much a good HA helps with understanding foreign accents?
In addition to HAs, should I be spending time training myself on understanding foreign accents?