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Troubleshooting a nonfunctional cochlear implant
You may suspect the child’s equipment is not functioning properly if he or she was unable to
complete the Ling Six Sound Test, or because the child misses key classroom information.
Simple troubleshooting can restore the cochlear implant’s functionality. Some parents may prefer
to troubleshoot the cochlear implant themselves. In this case, call the parents when a malfunction
occurs and wait for them to come to the classroom. (Ask parents which approach they prefer at
the beginning of the school year.)
To troubleshoot, you will check the external components of the system, which include the
batteries, cables/wires, transmitter/headpiece, microphone, and speech processor. At the start of
the school year, ask the parents to demonstrate minor repairs to the child’s cochlear implant. If
the parent fails to provide this information, then ask the audiologist in your school district for
information. You may also visit the website of the cochlear implant manufacturer for more
information on troubleshooting and replacement parts. Develop a plan for what you will do if the
cochlear implant fails to work after you complete these troubleshooting steps:
Check the batteries and replace if needed: The longevity of cochlear implant batteries
varies considerably by the type of cochlear implant, type of batteries used, and amount of
input being processed by the cochlear implant. Some processors and/or microphones have a
low-battery indicator. This indicator may be an icon on the processor display window, a
flashing light near the microphone, or an audible beep.
Check the cables and replace if needed: Cochlear implant cables get worn, frayed, and
kinked quite quickly. Poor quality cables can cause the child to get a distorted signal, an
intermittent signal, or no signal at all. Replace any cables that show signs of wear.
Try resetting the program: Turn off the processor, wait 10 seconds, and then turn it back
on. Resetting the cochlear implant can get things working properly.
Examine the transmitter/headpiece and microphone: Parents may provide you with a
“wand” to use to determine if the signal is reaching the transmitter/headpiece. You may also
have to use a listening microphone to see if the microphone is working. If you have these
tools, conduct a check and then follow the parents’ instructions for fixing the component.
Check the FM system connection: If the child with a cochlear implant uses an FM system,
you may need to troubleshoot it to ensure the FM system is working properly and the
connection to the child’s cochlear implant is correct. Check the connection and the frequency
settings. If you are unable to find or fix a problem with the FM system, turn it off and contact
730 Peachtree Street NE, Ste. 820
Atlanta, GA 30308
the child’s parents, audiologist, the cochlear implant manufacturer, or another resource who
can address the problem.
Do not panic: You may find that you are unable to troubleshoot the cochlear implant. In
such instances, you should alert the child’s parents, turn off the cochlear implant, and
continue teaching. Do your best to ensure that the child with the cochlear implant
understands what is happening.
Remember that there may be more than one faulty component, so troubleshoot each one.
List of backup cochlear implant equipment
At the start of the school year, the parents should supply you with all backup equipment you may
need. If the parents forget, or do not provide you with these supplies before the school year
starts, remind them that without these supplies you will be unable to assist the child should the
cochlear implant malfunction at school.
Replacement parts – batteries, cables, and transmitters/headpieces: Ask the parent to
provide several sets of spare batteries. Keep several sets in the classroom, and put at least one
set in the child’s backpack in case the batteries die while you and the child are away from the
classroom. If the child uses rechargeable batteries, then you may find it helpful to have a
battery tester and charger in the classroom. You still will need extra batteries, because
charging can take several hours. Also, keep extra cables and transmitters/headpieces on hand
in case these components stop working.
Troubleshooting devices: A “wand” to ensure the transmitter/headpiece is functioning and a
listening microphone to check the child’s microphone.
Additional helpful troubleshooting resources that you may be provided: A map card,
provided by the audiologist who programs the child’s cochlear implant, gives brief
information on program settings, volume, and sensitivity levels. This document may help you
reset the settings on the cochlear implant if they are accidentally adjusted.
Contact information for the person who can assist you in case of a technical problem
you cannot solve: This may be a parent, audiologist, or itinerant teacher for deaf children. If
your troubleshooting of the cochlear implant is unsuccessful, either you or one of the
administrators should call this person for assistance.
730 Peachtree Street NE, Ste. 820
Atlanta, GA 30308
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