Take a look at the most recent developments in hearing technology:
Powerful hearing aids. Hearing aids can reinforce sound to such an extent that you can communicate effectively even if you have only one per cent hearing. The latest aids use digital technology which has resulted in a dramatic improvement in sound quality. Prices range from R2 500 to R40 000.
Cochlear implants. The technology is so good that people who are technically deaf can hear again. Implantation costs about R185 000.
Cordless FM systems. These systems eliminate background noise and were designed to help students who have hearing aids or cochlear implants in a classroom situation. A small microphone attached to the teacher's collar picks up her voice and sends the sound waves through cordless technology directly to the child's hearing aid or speech processor. Background noise is eliminated because the child receives the teacher's voice directly into the ear. Prices range from R7 000 to R25 000.
Voice recognition. Some digital hearing aids have this function which can distinguish between speech and noise. Speech is recognised and there is less disturbance caused by background sounds.
Direction focus. Some hearing aids and speech processors can be set to pick up sound coming from the direction in which a person is looking. The program in the speech processor of the cochlear implant is able to distinguish between foreground and background sounds.
(This is an extract of an article that originally appeared in YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS magazine, September 2007. Buy the latest copy, on newsstands now, for more fascinating stories from the world of health and wellness.)