Hearing-aids can improve your Welsh!

True story! (BTW I have no vested interest, except that I am stone deaf one side and profoundly hard-of-hearing the other, yet have learned Welsh thanks to SSiW.)

I just got back from my wonderful audiologist who adjusted my new super-duper hearing-aids to capture and/or enhance the sounds commonly used in Welsh.

How? Hearing-aids use ‘algorithms’ to tailor sounds to a listener’s ability to hear specific frequencies at different levels of loudness, in different sound environments. These can be adjusted to capture sounds unique to Welsh, or frequently used, like ‘ll’, ‘ch’, ‘ngh’ and so on.

Some old-timers here may recall how I shared my journey in learning Welsh on the Forum, starting back in 2015, on the thread ‘What am I hearing or missing? Ongoing help for the hard-of-hearing’. Whenever I was baffled by sounds I could not quite make out, I would post it and almost instantly a SSiW angel would clarify it for me—seeing it written and explained helped enormously. It got to be a bit of a game for me and fun for others, as I framed my progress as a horse-race between the Old and New Courses. Although dormant, that thread could still be immensely helpful for others who have a job differentiating sounds, or need encouragement.

However, HA technology has come a long way since then—as I discovered this morning when my audiologist programmed in common and unique Welsh sounds. It took a while for me to say them while she analyzed their frequency-spectrum, but hey presto—I can now ‘deall yn well iawn—gwych’. :grinning::wales:😃

Wow! If only I could download all the vocab and grammar directly into my memory! In the meantime, I’ll just keep giving my ‘little grey cells’ a daily workout.

Hwyl,
Mari

11 Likes

Hi Mari,
Just saw your post now. I lost a chunk of hearing in one ear years ago and the same thing happened in the good ear last year. I misinterpreted what was happening and was too late to do anything about it. I was very reluctant to get hearing aids. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched ‘Fawlty Towers’ but I though I’d be like the deaf woman with a box stuck to my chest and me fiddling with a volume button. I gave in just before Christmas and now, two high tech and highly expensive hearing aids later, and I’m hearing things I’d never heard before. I get a kick out of telling people that I’m very deaf but learning Welsh. I’m going to look for the thread you mentioned.
Teresa

PS. If you ever find a HA with a memory link to the brain, please let m e know.

5 Likes

It’s fantastic to read how well you’re both doing, and great that modern technology can make that difference. I remember a friend from around 20 years ago now who had been deaf since birth, but learnt to speak fairly well and to hear to a certain extent with the old cumbersome hearing aids. She worked as a school teacher and eventually got new high-tech hearing aids that were virtually invisible. The first day she wore them to school, the pupils were all surprised, thinking she wasn’t wearing hearing aids any more. When she was writing on the board, one child at the back of the room made a cheeky comment, and without turning round she said “I heard that” and named the child. She said there was an absolutely stunned silence in the classroom and they were young enough to think something magical had happened to her :rofl: :joy:

6 Likes

I have difficulty hearing high pitch sounds. I got digital hearing aids on the NHS about 10 years ago, mainly needed then to hear dialogue in the theatre but I found them very difficult to use making telephone calls (I’m a Samaritans’ volunteer). I started learning Welsh with SSiW 2.5 years ago & don’t have any problem listening but “in the wild” ie my class (v few Welsh speakers in Radnorshire) I have difficulty hearing. Also, I’m a fairly confident Spanish speaker but have difficulty hearing replies. Has hearing aid technology increased significantly in last few years that might solve previous difficulties. I can afford to pay privately but think this should be an NHS (like dentistry- OMG!).

2 Likes

Great news for you Lynne—HA technology has advanced so far now that you can switch programmes effortlessly to pick up speech in various settings, so even in noisy places like coffee shops and restaurants you can focus on the person across the table.

There are automatic settings that take a few seconds to sample your environment then adjust, but if you cannot wait you can switch instantly just by touching the HA, or your smart phone.

Nowadays, I am able to cope better in such settings than folk with excellent hearing who cannot tune out the background. Also, my HAs stream directly from my phone, iPad and computer, so I can listen to SSiW with ease!

I live in Vancouver, but Phonak and Oticon HAs are available worldwide with models to suit different needs and at various price-ranges.

I hope this helps and encourages you to investigate through your local HA clinics.

Best wishes and HWYL!
Marilyn

That is a HUGE advantage! I have always struggled with that and often given up going to conversation groups in various languages due to them being held in noisy pubs or coffee shops! I’m so glad technology has provided you with a good solution @MarilynHames

1 Like

I can even tune into the rugby when looking pious in Church—it’s the time difference that does it :roll_eyes:

1 Like

:joy: :rofl:

1 Like