Barb Cole received a cochlear implant just a couple years ago. She shared her experience with our readers, and promised to stay in touch. Recently, she reached out to tell me that she discovered a new and relatively inexpensive (well, when it comes to hearing loss technology) tool that has been really helpful: her Apple Watch!
Barb says her hearing loss consists of mostly high frequency sounds, which includes hearing birds chirping and the sound “s”. “I am able to hear some low frequency sounds. I have a Cochlear Hybrid Implant — processor type N6 — in my right year and a Resound Hearing Aid in my left.”
Barb currently owns the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular). It works in conjunction with her iPhone 6 and she uses iOS 11.
“The Apple Watch has become an important device that increases and improves my ability to function independently,” she says. “It helps me feel secure and safe in different environments.”
Here are some ways Barb has used her Apple Watch to help with her hearing loss:
Vonbruno Hearing Aid ($4.99) is an app that actually allows you to use the Apple Watch as a hearing aid! You simply plug in headphones and tap the “on” button. The app will amplify the sounds around you. It can amplify your voice in a microphone setting, and will increase the volume of something you might be listening to.
ReSound Smart App is another Apple Watch app that allows hearing aid users to fine-tune the sound captured by their devices. For example, when speaking with someone, they can use the app to block out all unimportant sounds.
The Apple Watch can be used to call for assistance. If you long-press the side button, you can start a call with emergency services. The Apple Watch knows what country you are in and will dial the right number. Once the call has been made, the watch will send a message to your emergency contacts with a map of your location.
The Apple Watch also serves medical ID bracelet. I find this particularly compelling given the fact that people with Cochlear implants cannot have an MRI (because of the magnets implanted in their heads). God forbid if something were to happen to Sonya I am thinking a medical ID bracelet informing emergency services of her implants is an extremely important accessory (and I imagine kids with CIs would much rather sport an Apple Watch than an old fashioned metal ID bracelet…)
Barb also mentioned the following apps, which can be downloaded to the iPhone (not Apple Watch):
Ava – 24/7 Accessible Life (Free) is built by a team of deaf and hearing people, Ava uses voice recognition technologies to show a real time, color-coded transcript of the discussion by leveraging the power of your friends’ smartphones, and learns to get better over time. Ava uses your microphone to hear and show you word for word what is said.
EarMachine (Free) makes it easy to listen to the sounds you want to hear. EarMachine has a simple interface that allows you to adjust the sounds coming into your phone’s microphone (or ear buds, although that’s not possible if you have CIs, obviously). Barb mentioned that she is considering buying big headphones (like these), which might work if you are wearing processors as well.
Barb says that the Apple Watch’s Message Center, Activity Center and Reminders (which helps with memory loss) have made her Apple Watch an invaluable assistive listening device and she holds it as important as her MiniMic 2+ and her Phone Clip.
Thank you so much Barb, for sharing this! Sonya may be too young for an Apple Watch this year, but I imagine parents of older kids with CIs and hearing aids will find this very useful!! (Also, I kinda just want one anyways so this is a great opportunity to justify buying one! 🙂