It seems to me that rather than focus on the best hearing aid, potential hearing aid purchasers could more fruitfully spend their time and energy looking for the right audiologist or hearing aid specialist, one who is competent, caring and conscientious. This is the person whose job it is to select the best possible amplification system for a hearing aid user, one who can maneuver between the myriad possibilities now offered by modern hearing aids.
"The hearing aids recommended by these professionals should ensure that their client’s performance falls into the best possible 'zone' of performance."
Such a person will not only keep up with new hearing aid developments, but will also consider and respond to the totality of a client’s communication problems. The hearing aids recommended by these professionals should ensure that their client’s performance falls into the best possible “zone” of performance—one consistent with the person’s hearing loss, the audiologist’s personal experiences and the research evidence. The inclusion of any special (and expensive) feature will have to be judged by the likelihood of a positive cost/benefit ratio for the hearing aid user. This, too, is part of the audiologist’s responsibilities.
FINDING AN EXPERT FOR YOU
So now how do we find this professional paragon? I don’t have a specific answer to that question either; I wish I did.
"The search for the best hearing aid should ideally be viewed as just one step, albeit a crucial one, in the effective overall management of a hearing loss."
The experiences of other hearing aid users are one major source, as are the recommendations from other professionals (otologists, etc.). A good place to start would be looking at the professional members of HLAA. Obviously, I can’t vouch for the technical proficiency of any of the audiologists on the list, but I can say that their membership in HLAA suggests a consumer orientation that would put them on my personal short list. Someone, in other words, who functions more like a professional and less like a salesperson. One who recognizes that the implications of a hearing loss can be pervasive and profound and that the search for the best hearing aid should ideally be viewed as just one step, albeit a crucial one, in the effective overall management of a hearing loss.
By: Mark Ross, Ph.D.,
Retired Audiologist, The Hearing Loss Association of America, Hearing Loss Magazine
(as featured in Hearing Loss Magazine)