Tuesday, October 5, 2010

County Commissioner proposes hearing test before interpreter hired

I have to admit, I am fairly shocked to find that this is an actual news story in my area. Charles Martin, Chairman of the Bucks County Pennsylvania Board of Commissioners was apparently taken aback by the huge amount of money spent on interpreters for people who don't speak English or cannot hear in the county courtrooms. He suggested that maybe our state representative could introduce legislation that allowing the county court to test peoples' ability to speak English or hear.

At a recent meeting, he asked this of the board:

"If they say they're deaf, we don't drop a book next to them and see if they jump?"

Seriously, ignorance at a level so extreme is sickening. Having people like this in government in simply inexcusable when 10% of our citizens are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rexton Cobalt hearing aids - 18 month followup review

So it has been about 18 months since I got my Rexton Cobalt 16 hearing aids, and I figured I would write a followup review in hopes that it may help people weigh the options.

Overall opinion: I have very little to complain about with these. They perform admirably in almost every situation, and fail where I imagine every hearing aid will fail. My experience with Rexton customer service has been very good, and they seem very generous with parts--more on this later.

The good: these hearing aids are small and basically invisible. If you're like me and don't necessarily want them to blend in, Rexton offers interchangeable colored shells. I bought silver and blue and mixed so the top of the aid is blue and the bottom is silver. I think they look cool! My batteries last about 7 days, but I need pretty high amplification, so others may get better life. I haven't tried the rechargeables that came with them yet because I know I would forget to charge them anyways. These aids really shine in ambient noise, where they make things like air conditioners silent. In lots of noise they seem to bring down speech levels slighty, too, though. The bluetooth receiver works GREAT. I plug in my receiver to my TV and at church, and everything seems very clear with none of the normal echoes that kill clarity. Compression is really great--what I mean by this is that they bring down the volume of very loud sounds, and bring up the volume of very soft sounds. Music can be a little tricky because of the compression and background noise suppression, unfortunately. I find that music that is not complex (something like James Taylor acoustic) is relayed very accurately, while music like Metallica ends up being highly filtered by the circuitry.

The bad: like many hearing aids, these things do very little to help when the ambient noise in a room is PEOPLE. I can last about 15 minutes at a time in these situations until I am exhausted from concentrating so hard to understand. The remote control, although very advanced in terms of hearing aids, really seems antiquated in the age of iPhones. I need more than 5 programs, seriously.

Wishlist: I think they could be head and shoulders above others if they just did a couple things. There is no reason not to allow the ability for more programs. They could make the remote more responsive in terms of "reading" the settings of the hearing aids.

Customer service: I have had to send back one of the units so far for an amplifier replacement. I also had a couple receivers go out. Rexton was very fast about fixing my aid, and shipped me a few extra receivers for each side for no charge!! This is really an improvement over Phonak in my experience.

I hope I have helped!