Programmes: Want Them But Never Use Them

When I got my first pair of hearing aids, I was hesitating between a smaller and slightly cheaper model, and a somewhat larger and more expensive one. I honestly wasn’t sure the sound quality was better in the more expensive one. I thought it was, but I wasn’t sure.

What tipped the balance was that the more expensive hearing aids had a button that I could use to switch between programmes. And I wanted that. I was frustrated by the lack of control I had as a user on the hearing aid settings, and so the idea of having programmes I could switch between gave me something to hang on to.


Normal, noisy environment, quiet environment, mute.

When I tried Phonak Quest and then Venture, I got extra programmes. I was super happy! My current line-up is something like: normal (AutoSense), calm environment with nothing fancy added in, super zoom for loud environment, 360 zoom, speech in wind (for sailing) and music. Mute is in addition to all that. And the “normal” setting itself actually contains a whole bunch of programmes that the OS switches to automatically.

In reality, I almost never use my programmes. I do use mute (when working in a café, I’m happy to “turn the sound off”, or in public transport), but the programmes? The only times I really use them is when I’m struggling, and this usually results in me cycling through the programmes without really finding anything more satisfying than the initial setting.

For me this means two things:

  1. the automatic programme (AutoSense) is doing a pretty good job selecting the most appropriate setting for the acoustic situation I’m in, and as a result I’m rarely in trouble hearing;
  2. my desire for programmes has more to do with my peace of mind than with my actual necessity for them — something I suspected since the beginning; it reminds me of the disconnect between what you think will make you happy and what actually makes you happy…

If you have programmes and actually use them, I’d love to hear about it!

3 thoughts on “Programmes: Want Them But Never Use Them”

  1. Stephanie: Use your iCube2 and Target 4.0 or higher to read in your Venture aids and view the datalogger, which will surprise you with the plethora of information revealed!

  2. I’d be nuts without my programs. I use the all the time.

    I have older Phonaks (Versatas). I do my best stay in the “normal” program, but I often switch to my “quieter” program, when “normal” is just too loud and gives me a lot more input than is useful. (Sometimes Less really is More.) Sometimes the more focused “speech in noise” program makes a difference in how much I can comprehend, especially in a group, even if it means turning my head a lot to keep up with a conversation bouncing among several people. In other situations it doesn’t work well enough. My favorite program is one that my audiologist and I invented that I call “Hiking”…. it puts the focus all on my right (best) ear, so that I can better hear the words of the person I’m hiking or walking with. Then, of course, I had to train my friends to walk on my right side. Some remember, but at least they understand when I shift over to their left side, every time they “misplace” themselves. (Every try lip-reading when you’re walking beside someone on a rutted trail? The other names for that are tripping, falling, and getting injured.) Hiking with friends is one of my favorite social interactions and before we invented this setting I was on the verge of losing it.

    My other favorite “button” is my volume control. I turn people and environments up and down, many times a day. Especially in meetings and group settings (and restaurants). I use it in conjunction with settings to get the best sound possible to increase my comprehension. My HAs have a program button, but it takes an exterior device to adjust the volume, and it’s always in my front left pocket, for ready access. I lost my device (myPilot) a few years ago — . I tried getting along without one for a couple months but not having it left me way too frustrated and way too grouchy. I don’t understand why every HA doesn’t have a volume control on it. I would go so far as to say that I think it’s demeaning to assume that one volume level is appropriate or “good enough” for every situation. (Some audiologists and HAs seem to use programs to provide “louder” and “softer” options, which seems to me to underuse the equipment.)

    I’m on the verge of shopping for new HAs –. My hearing loss is “outgrowing” these and there’s newer, hopefully better-for-me technology out there. I’m interested in the new HAs that attach to iPhones and allow for many more “programs”, most of which can be adjusted by the users. But I wonder if the adjustments and changing the programs will be too clunky and slow. The line that “you’ll look just like everyone else, like you’re just checking your phone” is not a comfort to me. “Checking your phone,” when someone one is talking to you, is rude. Already my friends think I’m doing that with my little volume control. I have to explain, “No, I’m not ignoring you, I’m turning up the volume so I can understand you better.” Sometimes people “get” that, but often there’s skepticism, and the initial damage, a perceived insult or slight, has already been done. It’s hard enough to create and maintain communication as a hear-of-hearing person. Inserting looking rude (staring into an iPhone instead of looking at the person) at the beginning of a conversation doesn’t exactly build goodwill. And, while I can glance away for a few seconds to push a button or two on my (familiar, tactile, button-driven remote control), I can’t afford more than a couples seconds away from lip-reading or I lose track of the conversation.

    But yes, I use programs a lot.

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