Radio Aids - Bradford Schools Online

Radio Aids - Bradford Schools Online
Radio Aids
An introductory guide
Radio Aids
An introductory guide
First published in April 2001. Revised edition February 2005.
We would like to thank the following companies for their help in providing information
for this publication:
BioAcoustics Ltd
Connevans Ltd
PC Werth Ltd
Cover photos by: Left - T. Fireman
Phonak UK Ltd
Oticon Ltd
Middle - Craig Young
Right - T. Fireman
ISBN: 0 904691 56X
If you are an education, health-care or social-service provider working with deaf
children, deaf young people, their families and carers, you may copy all or part of this
guide without our permission. However, you must state that the information comes
from us. Any other person must ask for our permission in writing before copying any
part of this book.
All of the information in this book applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Throughout this book, we use the term ‘radio aid’ to include equipment
sometimes referred to as FM systems or personal FM systems.
We use the term ‘deaf’ to mean all types of deafness, including temporary
deafness such as glue ear.
Technology changes quickly. We did our best to make sure the information in this
guide was correct when it was printed. We cannot be held responsible for any
mistake or missing information, or for any action you take or fail to take as a result
of the information in this guide.
This information is available in large print, in Braille and on audio
tape.
© NDCS 2005
Designed by Red Lizard Ltd
Tel: 01527 592152 email: mark@redlizard.ltd.uk
Contents
1
Introduction
p4
2
What is a radio aid?
p5
3
Who can a radio aid help?
p6
4
How to get a radio aid
p7
5
The parts of a radio aid
p9
6
Different ways of connecting a radio aid
p13
7
Radio aids – special features
p18
8
Working with radio aids at home and at school
p21
9
Taking care of radio aids
p24
10 Classroom soundfield systems and acoustics
p30
11 Appendix 1: Technical specification and suppliers
p32
12 Appendix 2: Frequency comparison table (for school use)
p43
13 Appendix 3: Technical terms
p45
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1
Introduction
This book is designed for parents
It aims to explain
how radio aids can help deaf children;
the different types of radio aid available; and
how to maintain radio aids.
Teachers and other staff working with deaf children and young people may also
find the information in this guide useful.
You may not need all of this information straight away. We hope you keep this
booklet and use it as and when you need to. The booklet is split up into different
sections. Each section has a different colour tab to help you find the information
you need. See the Contents page to find out which colour tab to look for.
Other NDCS publications that you may
find useful
Hearing Aids - A guide
Understanding Deafness
Cochlear Implants - A guide for families
Digital hearing aids
Technology at home
For more information on our publications, or on radio aids, please phone our
Freephone helpline on 0808 800 8880 (voice and text) or email
helpline@ndcs.org.uk. Many publications are also available to download and
order from our website www.ndcs.org.uk.
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What is a radio aid?
There are many situations in which your
deaf child may find it difficult to listen
The three main situations are where:
there is unwanted background noise;
sounds are echoing around the room (reverberation); and
there is a distance between the person who is speaking and the deaf child.
A radio aid should help to overcome these problems. For example, if your child
is using a radio aid that is working properly, a teacher standing at the far end of
a noisy classroom should sound as if he or she is standing directly in front of
your child.
A radio aid consists of a transmitter, worn by a teacher for example, and a
receiver, worn by your child. The radio aid works by making the sound the child
needs to hear (for example, the teacher’s voice) clearer in relation to other
unwanted noise.
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3
Who can a radio aid help?
If your child gets some benefit from their hearing aid or cochlear implant, they
may find a radio aid useful. This is because a radio aid will work with your child’s
hearing aid or cochlear implant to make it easier for them to concentrate on the
sounds they want to hear.
Radio aids are recommended for children
who have
hearing aids;
bone anchored hearing aids;
bone conduction hearing aids; or
a cochlear implant.
Children with all levels of deafness have benefited from using radio aids. This is
because your child’s hearing aids are prescribed by an audiologist and set up to
amplify sounds in a way that is suitable for their deafness. However, radio aids
do not amplify sounds in the same way as hearing aids, but help your child to
concentrate on the particular sounds or voices they need to hear. Your child’s
hearing aids are chosen to suit their deafness and the radio aid is then set up to
work properly with the hearing aids. So, the benefits of a radio aid are limited by
the suitability of the hearing aids.
A radio aid can sometimes be useful for children who do not use hearing aids.
Children with a mild deafness may find that they benefit from using a radio aid.
Children who have difficulty concentrating, particularly in noisy settings, may
also find that using a radio aid helps them to concentrate on what a teacher is
saying. For example, this may include children with an auditory processing
disorder (APD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD).
It is very important for you to get the views of a range of professionals working
with your child, such as your child’s teacher, an educational psychologist or an
audiologist. Please see page 17 for more information about options for children
who do not have a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.
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How to get a radio aid
For children at school
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Most radio aids are provided to schoolchildren through their local education
authority (in England and Wales), and the Education and Library Board (in
Northern Ireland). If you feel your child might benefit from a radio aid, ask your
child’s teacher, the teacher of the deaf, special educational needs co-ordinator
(SENCO) or the head of the hearing impaired service for advice.
Some deaf children will have a statement of special educational needs (a
document that sets out a child’s needs and all the extra help they should receive).
The need to provide a radio aid can be set out in the statement, usually in part 3.
This means that the LEA has a legal responsibility to provide a radio aid.
Even if a deaf child does not have a statement, the education service and school
still have an obligation to meet their needs.
Scotland
In Scotland, radio aids are provided for school children through the education
department in each local council authority. To get a radio aid, a child does not
need to have a ‘record of needs’ (or a ‘co-ordinated support plan’ when these
replace records of need in 2005). However, if your child does have a record of
needs, make sure that if a radio aid is recommended in part 4 of the record, part
5 of the record states that one will be provided.
If you think your child would benefit from using a radio aid, get advice from the
head of the sensory or hearing impaired service, teacher of the deaf, educational
audiologist, educational psychologist or our Freephone helpline on 0808 800
8880 (voice and text).
For young people in further education
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
If a young person has a statement of special educational needs and the need for a
radio aid has been included in the transition plan, usually up to the age of 19, the local
education authority (in England and Wales) or the Education and Library Board (in
Northern Ireland) is legally responsible for meeting the cost of a radio aid. If a young
person does not have a statement, the deaf student needs to go through the learning
support team at their further education college to get their support needs assessed.
Scotland
The education departments of the local council authorities in Scotland are not
responsible for young people in further education and so do not provide equipment
for young people with special educational needs (SEN) once they have left school.
If it is considered to be in the young person’s best interests, they may stay on at
school until the age of 18 (with discretion up to their 19th birthday). In Scotland,
when a young person leaves school they must return any personal equipment,
including the radio aid, to the education department. If a young person with
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special educational needs has a record of needs or a co-ordinated support plan
when they leave school, that record or plan is closed and kept on file for five
years. It is then destroyed.
The Scottish Further Education Funding Council (SFEFC) has a budget for students
who need extra support in further education. Colleges draw up Personal Learning and
Support Plans for each student who will study there. The amount of money needed is
worked out from the Personal Learning and Support Plan. Funding is available to buy
equipment. If you need more advice on this, phone the NDCS Freephone helpline.
For young people in higher education
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Deaf students wanting to use a radio aid in higher education can use the
specialist equipment part of the Disabled Student Allowance to buy the
equipment. Students apply for this funding through their local education service
and rates of Disabled Student Allowance depend on the type of course studied.
If a deaf student is not entitled to funding, they may be able to get a radio aid on
loan, from their university or college. Many universities and colleges have their own
equipment, so it would be worth checking this with the learning support team.
Students can also apply for funding for a radio aid through private trusts if no
other source of funding is available. For more information on the Disabled Student
Allowance and other sources of funding for students, visit the SKILL website at
www.skill.org.uk or phone them on 0800 328 5050 (Freephone), 020 7657 2337,
or 0800 068 2422 (textphone).
Scotland
In Scotland, deaf students who want to use a radio aid in higher education can
also use the specialist equipment part of the Disabled Student Allowance to buy
the equipment. However, this funding is provided through the Student Award
Agency for Scotland (SAAS) and not individual education departments in local
council authorities. For further information, visit the Student Award Agency for
Scotland’s website at www.student-support-saas.gov.uk, phone them on
0845 111 1711, or fax them on 0131 244 5887.
For young people in work
A radio aid can be useful in the world of work. An employer may be willing to
provide a radio aid and other equipment. The Disability Employment Advisor at
the local Jobcentre, Jobcentre Plus or social security office will also be able to
give you advice on the Access to Work scheme. This can provide funding
(alongside an employer’s contribution) for both equipment and professional
support to help with communication.
Buying privately
You can buy a radio aid yourself. For a full list of suppliers, see appendix 1 on
page 42. Most suppliers will sell equipment direct to the general public. You will
not have to pay VAT on the radio aid if it is bought by or for a deaf person. (The
supplier will send you a form to fill in so VAT is not charged.)
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5
The parts of a radio aid
Transmitter
All radio aids include a transmitter. This takes the sound the child
needs to hear, converts it to a radio signal, and sends it to the
receiver. Radio aid transmitters use the same technology as
ordinary domestic radios. This provides a high-quality signal. Most
radio aids are designed to be worn by someone speaking (usually
a teacher or parent). However, some are hand-held or can be
placed on a table so they can be pointed towards a speaker or
passed around a group.
Most transmitters will automatically limit the volume of the radio aid
if there is a very loud sound near to the transmitter.
Receiver
The child wears the receiver. The receiver picks up the radio
signal from the transmitter and changes it into a sound that the
child can hear. Most receivers include a volume control, which will
be set by the audiologist or teacher, although older children can
adjust it themselves. This control may be lockable. Sometimes the
receiver will have a control to help set up the radio aid with the
child’s hearing aids.
There are two main types of receiver. Body-worn receivers are
usually worn on the child’s chest or waist, depending on their age
(see page 21). Behind-the-ear receivers are small units that attach
directly to some hearing aids and cochlear implant processors.
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Microphones
There are several different types of microphone, designed for different situations.
Built-in microphones
Some transmitters include a built-in microphone. The transmitter
is then usually worn on a strap around the teacher’s neck. Other
transmitters with built-in microphones are hand-held units
designed to be pointed in the direction of the person speaking,
or passed around a group. A receiver may include a built-in
microphone to pick up sounds near the child. This would usually
only be used if the receiver is being used with a neckloop (see
page 14).
Tie-clip and lavalier (neck-strap) microphones
It is often more comfortable for teachers to wear a transmitter
on a waist belt. A microphone on a lead can then be used to
pick up the sound of their voice. It can be clipped to a tie or
other clothing (tie-clip microphone), or worn on a cord around
the neck (sometimes called a lavalier microphone). It should be
within 15 to 20cm from the mouth. Manufacturers may offer a
choice of microphones which either pick up sounds equally from
all directions (omnidirectional) or give preference to sounds from
one direction (directional). Omidirectional microphones can be
used in most situations. The radio aid supplier will be able to
give you advice on the most appropriate microphone for you.
Head-worn microphones
Head-worn microphones may be the most effective option, as
the microphone stays close to the mouth of the person
speaking as they move their head.
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Conference microphones
In school, children often spend time working in small groups. To
deal with situations like this, some manufacturers have
developed conference microphones. These are usually designed
to sit in the middle of a table and to pick up sounds from the
surrounding area. Conference microphones can be very useful
but they have certain drawbacks. They are designed to pick up
all nearby sounds so they will also pick up unwanted
background noise. The sounds of papers rustling, objects being
moved on the table and the table vibrating can be particularly
noticeable.
Aerials (antennas)
All receivers and transmitters need an aerial (antenna) to receive
and send the signal. Sometimes the aerial is built into the radio
aid. For example, the lead of a transmitter’s tie-clip microphone
may also work as the aerial. Sometimes the aerial is a length of
wire that plugs into the transmitter. Do not cut or shorten the
aerial as this will affect its performance.
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Batteries
All radio aids are powered by batteries. The battery in a hearing aid also powers
behind-the-ear receivers. This usually means that when the behind-the-ear
receiver is connected, the hearing aid’s battery will run down more quickly than
normal.
Rechargable batteries
Some radio aids use batteries that cannot be recharged and are
replaced regularly. However, this can be expensive so most
radio aids use rechargeable batteries. (You should know that
even rechargeable batteries only last for a limited time and
should be checked carefully to see when they need replacing).
Batteries can usually be recharged either in a separate charger
or inside the radio aid.
Battery chargers
Manufacturers of radio aids produce special chargers for their
equipment. There are two types. One type of charger simply has
a lead that plugs into the radio aid. A more expensive alternative
is the ‘drop-in’ charger, which has ‘pockets’ which the
transmitter and receiver are placed into. Several of these
chargers can be connected together. In schools, where many
radio aids are used, this can be the easiest way of managing all
radio aids and recharging them all overnight.
Some chargers are described as ‘intelligent’. This means that
they will sense the level of charge remaining in a battery and
charge them correctly. They may empty the battery first which
will help to make it last longer.
When storing and handling batteries, be careful not to allow the
positive and negative terminals to touch, or for any metal object
to come into contact with them. If this happens, the batteries
can overheat.
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Different ways of
connecting a radio aid
Radio aids are most likely to be used with your child’s own behind-the-ear or
in-the-ear hearing aid or their cochlear implant. There are various ways of
connecting the radio aid’s receiver to your child’s hearing aids. Each method has
advantages and disadvantages.
Using a radio aid with hearing aids
Direct audio input
Most hearing aids used by children have ‘direct audio input’.
This allows the electrical signal from a radio aid to be fed
directly into the hearing aid, providing a consistent and highquality sound. You can sometimes tell if your child’s hearing aid
has direct audio input by looking for a row of gold dots on the
hearing aid’s casing. Check with the clinic which provided your
child’s hearing aid to be sure.
In most cases, to use direct audio input on your child’s hearing
aid, a ‘shoe’ must be used. This ‘shoe’ fits snugly onto the
bottom of the hearing aid (around the battery compartment).
To connect the radio aid to your child’s hearing aid, the correct
type of direct audio input lead needs to be plugged into the
‘shoe’. If your child uses one hearing aid, the direct audio input
lead will be a single, straight lead (monaural). If your child wears
two hearing aids, the lead will be in the shape of a ‘Y’ (binaural)
to connect to both hearing aids.
Many digital hearing aids have direct audio input, but they may
need to be programmed to work correctly. You should ask your
audiologist to make sure the hearing aid is set up correctly to use
with a radio aid. If the hearing aid has several different programmes,
the audiologist will be able to tell you which one to use.
Choosing the correct connecting leads and ‘shoes’ for the
various types of hearing aids can be confusing. This is because:
some hearing aids may have more than one type of ‘shoe’
available; and
‘shoes’ produced by a supplier may fit several different hearing
aids from their range, but only work correctly with one type.
If you have any concerns about how to connect a radio aid, or are worried about
whether you have the right lead or ‘shoe’, speak to a qualified technician. You
can also contact our technology team for further information by ringing our
Freephone helpline.
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Neckloops
An alternative to direct audio input is for your child to wear a
wire (known as a neckloop) around their neck. This is connected
to the radio aid’s receiver. The child’s in-the-ear or behind-theear hearing aid is switched to the telecoil (‘T’ or ‘MT’) position
so they can hear sounds from the radio aid. (This works in the
same way as a loop system that you might use in the home to
help your child listen to the television.)
If your child has a digital hearing aid, you may not be able to
see a switch labelled ‘T’ or ‘MT’, but your audiologist can
usually set the hearing aid up so that one of the programmes
works as a ‘T’ or ‘MT’ position. You should ask your child’s
audiologist to do this if your child wants to use a radio aid
neckloop or a loop system.
When a hearing aid is switched to ‘T’, the hearing aid’s
microphone may be switched off. This means that a child using
a radio aid with a neckloop would not be able to hear their own
voice or nearby sounds. To allow them to hear these important
sounds, some radio aid receivers include a built-in microphone
to pick up environmental noises, or the option to connect a tieclip microphone for this purpose.
The quality of the sounds a child can hear using a neckloop with
a radio aid may depend on:
the type of neckloop used (generally neckloops that are
thicker are more effective because they create a stronger
magnetic field);
the position of the hearing aid in relation to the neckloop (as
your child moves their head, the level of sound they can hear
may change);
how well the ‘telecoil’ in the hearing aid works (this can be
different from one model of hearing aid to another, especially
with in-the-ear hearing aids); and
electromagnetic interference. (These are unwanted magnetic
fields that are given out by nearby electrical equipment such
as fluorescent lights, televisions, computers and so on.
These fields can mean that your child picks up
uncomfortable buzzing noises through their hearing aids.)
For the reasons above, this way of connecting a radio aid to a hearing aid is less
popular than direct audio input. We recommend direct audio input, rather than
neckloops, in most situations. However, neckloops are still an option for children
who like the fact that the neckloop can be worn under clothing, or for those
whose hearing aids do not have direct audio input.
It is important that you and your child’s teacher know about the possible
dangers of wearing a neckloop. It might get caught on things such as door
handles, or be tightened by accident.
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Radio Aids
Digital neckloops
A small number of radio aids can be used with a special digital neckloop. This
offers better sound quality than a standard neckloop and there is less risk of
picking up interference. Digital neckloops are used with a small receiver which
plugs into the hearing aid, so the hearing aids must have direct audio input. For
more information, please contact our technology team by phoning our
Freephone helpline.
Using radio aids with a bone conduction or
bone anchored hearing aid
When a child uses a bone conduction or bone anchored hearing aid, they are
likely to benefit from using a radio aid.
Bone conduction aids
Bone conduction aids use a vibrating device to transmit sound
through the skull to the inner ear (cochlear). The vibrating
devices of bone conduction aids are normally mounted on a
sprung headband, or are sometimes included in the arms of
spectacles (see our publication Hearing Aids - A guide). Many
bone conduction aids have direct audio input and can be
connected to a radio aid in the same way as standard behindthe-ear hearing aids. Your child’s audiologist should set up the
combined hearing aid and radio aid system.
Bone anchored hearing aid
Most bone anchored hearing aids have direct audio input.
Manufacturers of bone anchored hearing aids also provide
special leads to connect the radio aid’s receiver to several
different types of radio aids.
It is not possible to test a bone anchored hearing aid in the
same way as conventional hearing aids, so when a radio aid is
first used, the complete system should normally be sent to the
hearing aid supplier to be set up. A special listener has recently
been developed to allow a hearing person to check that the
bone anchored hearing aid is working properly.
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Using radio aids with cochlear implants
The use of radio aids with cochlear implants is widely recommended.
A radio aid’s lead is usually plugged directly into a cochlear implant’s processor.
(Some processors need a special adapter.) It is very important to use the
correct lead, and your cochlear implant team will be able to give you advice on
this.
However, there are considerable differences when it comes to fitting and
managing a radio aid used with a cochlear implant. Cochlear implants and radio
aids cannot be checked or tested in the same way as conventional hearing aids.
We recommend that the radio aid is set up by the implant team, who will use
specialist equipment not normally available to other professionals. You should also
ask the implant team to regularly check the implant’s processor and the radio aid.
You and your child’s teacher can check the radio aid by following the procedures
described on page 28. For some cochlear implants, earphones are available that
allow a parent or teacher to listen to the sound received from the radio aid.
However, this only allows you to hear the sound from the radio aid before it is
processed, so you cannot check that the complete system is working properly.
If your child cannot identify and report any problem they may be having with the
cochlear implant and radio aid, the problem may continue. Problems will only be
identified by you or a teacher who notices any change in the way your child
behaves or responds.
For information about using a radio aid with your child’s cochlear
implant, contact your implant team. You can also contact our
technology team by phoning our Freephone helpline.
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Using a radio aid without hearing aids
Radio aids are usually used together with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Sometimes a radio aid can help a child who does not wear a hearing aid, but has
difficulty concentrating or picking out different sounds in the classroom. A radio aid
may also benefit a child with a temporary deafness or a child who cannot wear a
conventional hearing aid. Children who have a unilateral deafness (that is, deafness
in one ear) are sometimes not provided with hearing aids. But in the noisy
conditions of a school classroom, a radio aid may help them.
There are three main options.
Headphones
Headphones can be connected to some body-worn radio aid
receivers. Before your child uses a radio aid in this way, the child’s
audiologist or the head of the hearing impaired service should
make sure the sound levels are right for your child. It may be a
good idea to lock or limit the volume control so that young children
cannot alter the sound level once it has been set.
A wide range of headphones is available. The manufacturer of
your radio aid will supply their own headphones, or recommend
suitable alternatives. The headphones should be lightweight so
that they are comfortable to wear for a reasonable period of time.
When a radio aid is used with headphones, it will only be possible
to check that it is working correctly by carrying out simple
listening tests. If you (or your child’s teacher) have any concerns,
speak to the provider of the radio aid.
Portable soundfield systems
A portable soundfield system is a radio aid receiver with an
amplifier and a loudspeaker attached. This is all contained in a
portable case, which your child can take from class to class and
place on their desk.
The teacher wears a transmitter and a microphone in the same
way as with a standard radio aid. The sound of the teacher’s
voice is sent to the receiver and your child hears it through the
loudspeaker. There is a volume control your child can adjust until
the level of sound is comfortable.
Portable soundfield systems are easy to use. However, they are
not suitable if your child is involved in practical or physical
activities or is not sitting at a desk for most of the time.
Personal radio receivers
The Phonak EduLink is a recent alternative to a portable soundfield
system. This is a behind-the-ear receiver with an earphone.
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7
Radio aids
– special features
Frequency options
A radio aid’s receiver and transmitter must be on the same
frequency. Most radio aids allow you to change that frequency
(like tuning into a different radio station). This is important
when children in different classes at the same school all want
to use radio aids. The children must have their radio aids on
different frequencies to avoid hearing the wrong information or
getting interference.
With most radio aids you can choose from a number of
different frequencies using controls on the receiver and
transmitter. With some older radio aids, the frequency is
changed by replacing a small, plug-in part (sometimes called
a crystal). A colour or a letter often identifies these.
Radio aids have sometimes been known to receive unwanted signals (for
example, from a local taxi company). This is a rare problem. However, if you do
receive unwanted interference, contact your local hearing impaired service. If the
problem continues, the hearing impaired service should get advice from the
manufacturer of the radio aid. The Government regulator, Ofcom, may be able
to look into the source of the problem.
If your child’s radio aid receives unwanted interference, changing to another
frequency may solve the problem.
Because all radio aids use the same group of frequencies, one manufacturer’s
transmitter should work with another manufacturer’s receiver. However, there are
differences in the ways different radio aids perform. Any system with a
transmitter and receiver that are not the same make and model should be fully
tested in a hearing aid analyser before your child uses the system.
In the UK, the Government has set aside a number of different frequencies
(channels) to be used only by radio aids. For details, see the chart on page 43.
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Radio Aids
Mute switches
Radio aids are designed to allow your child to concentrate on a single speaker
(usually the teacher). However, in normal situations the child will also need to
hear their own voice and the voices of nearby children. So a radio aid is usually
set up so that the microphone on the child’s hearing aid is working.
Unfortunately, this means that the child may also hear unwanted background
noise.
Manufacturers have developed ways of tackling this problem. One option is a
‘mute switch’ (currently available on the Connevans fmGenie, the Lexis and
some Phonak Microlink/MLx/MLxS radio aids). When the mute switch on the
receiver is on it will ‘mute’ (quieten) the hearing aid’s microphone, effectively
turning it off. The child can then concentrate on the teacher’s voice. Then, when
they want to hear what children nearby are saying, they can turn the mute
switch off so their hearing aid’s microphone comes on again. One advantage of
this system is that it is easy to use. It allows a child to control their own listening
conditions, leaving them to judge for themselves when they want to use it.
Some manufacturers of hearing aids produce ‘shoes’ that include a small switch
that mutes the hearing aid microphone. These ‘shoes’ can be slightly less easy
to use than a muting system built into a radio aid’s receiver. This is because the
switches are small and fiddly.
If your child has a digital hearing aid, the audiologist may be able to set up one
of the programmes so that the hearing aid’s microphone is switched off and
they can just hear the radio aid.
The mute switch on a radio aid may not work properly with a few types of
hearing aid. So it is important that your child’s teacher or a technician checks
the system carefully before giving it to your child.
Automatic muting
A more sophisticated alternative to a mute switch is ‘automatic muting’
(currently available on the Connevans fmGenie, Sennheiser 2013, Phonic Ear
Solaris and as an option with the Connevans CRM220). The receiver checks the
level of sound being picked up by the transmitter’s microphone (usually the
teacher’s voice). When this is above a certain level, the hearing aid’s microphone
is automatically muted (quietened). When the teacher stops speaking, the
hearing aid’s microphone automatically comes back on.
Automatic muting can work well, but it should be used carefully. If the teacher is
standing in a noisy environment, the noise may turn the automatic muting on,
and switch the hearing aid’s microphone off, when the teacher is not speaking.
The teacher must also remember to turn their transmitter off when they are not
speaking to the child wearing the receiver. Otherwise, your child may hear a
conversation not intended for them, and they will also not be able to hear
anything through their hearing aid’s microphone.
Radio Aids
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Automatic muting is an option that can be switched off if it is not needed,
usually by a hidden switch. Automatic muting is sometimes referred to as
dynamic muting.
The automatic muting on a radio aid may not work properly with a few types of
hearing aid. So it is important that your child’s teacher or a technician checks
the system carefully before giving it to your child.
Useful accessories
Auxiliary audio leads
Most radio aids’ transmitters include an ‘auxiliary input’ socket. This allows the
transmitter to be connected to a range of devices including a television, video
recorder, computer, electronic keyboard or equipment in a school language
laboratory. Manufacturers of radio aids produce a wide range of leads with
commonly used connectors.
Some radio aids’ receivers offer an ‘audio output’ socket. This can be used to
connect the radio aid to a tape recorder. Lessons or lectures can then be
recorded to allow your child to take notes at a later stage.
Control locks
Once a radio aid is set up for a young child to use, the controls should not be
adjusted. Most radio aids have locks (for example, a small locking screw, a clipon plastic cover or a hidden switch) on the volume control and other controls.
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8
Working with radio aids
at home and at school
Wearing a radio aid
There are several different ways of wearing a radio aid.
Chest harnesses
Young children often wear their radio aid’s receiver in a harness on
their chest. This can be the best way of keeping it safe and securely
in place. Some harnesses allow teachers and parents to see the
indicators or display on the front of the radio aid.
Some younger children wear a chest harness the ‘wrong way
round’, so that the radio aid is on their back. This can help keep the
radio aid clean, and help to stop your child fiddling with the controls.
Waist belts, belt clips and bum bags
Older children and adults generally wear their radio aid’s receiver
on the waist or in a pocket. Most receivers have a built-in belt
clip. Others have specially designed waist belts or ‘bum bags’.
Bum bags can be very useful for children in mainstream schools
who are responsible for their own radio aid during the school
day. The bum bag can also keep the transmitter, batteries and
accessories safely together in one place.
Generally, if a radio aid’s receiver has a built-in environmental
microphone (see page 10), it should be worn in a chest
harness. If it is worn on the waist or in a bum bag, there is a risk
that the microphone will be covered or that noise will be
produced by clothes rubbing against it.
Wearing the transmitter
Your child’s teacher or parent can also wear the transmitter in
several different ways. Some transmitters have built-in microphones
and so need to be worn around the neck on a neck harness or
strap. When using a radio aid in this way, people often do not
realise how close the transmitter should be to their mouth. The
transmitter should be within 15 to 20cm of the mouth.
Many teachers prefer to clip the transmitter onto a belt and then
wear a tie-clip or neck-worn microphone, or a head-worn
microphone. Purpose-made waist belts are available for the
transmitter.
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Using a radio aid at home
A radio aid can be useful at home, but not in every situation. If you and your child
are talking together in a quiet room, a radio aid should not be necessary. Here
are a few examples of situations when your child might find their radio aid helpful.
On a car, bus or train journey the listening conditions can be very difficult,
with a lot of background noise. A radio aid can be helpful as it cuts out a
lot of background noise.
When you are in busy, noisy places (for example, at the shops or in the
park) a radio aid can be helpful.
A radio aid can help your child to fully take part in activities, at clubs and
so on, even if the surroundings are noisy. For some activity or club leaders
it may be the first time they are using a radio aid, so you must give them
clear guidance on how it works and when it will be useful. Most radio aids
are well-made and sturdy. However, they will not be suitable for most
vigorous sports and activities.
A radio aid can be connected directly to a TV, video, stereo system or
computer (see page 20).
Even though it is clear that a radio aid can be helpful at home, some education
services in the UK do not allow children to take their radio aid out of school. If
you want to borrow the school radio aid you should discuss this with your child’s
hearing impaired service or teacher. If your local education service will not let you
use the school radio aid at home, you should ask them to put their reasons in
writing and then phone the NDCS Freephone helpline for further advice.
Using a radio aid at school
(Information for teachers)
When used correctly, radio aids can be a great help to deaf children. If they are not
used properly, they will no longer be useful. In the worst case, a badly used or poorly
maintained radio aid could make the listening conditions more difficult for the child.
Good practice guidelines for teachers
There are a few basic guidelines to remember when you are a teacher using a radio
aid transmitter at school.
Remember to mute the transmitter microphone (where available) or switch the
transmitter off when you are not speaking to the child either directly or as part of
a group. For example, if the transmitter is on when you go off to talk to another
child, the deaf child will pick up your conversation and may get confused. If the
radio aid also uses automatic muting (see page 19), the deaf child will be cut off
from hearing other noises through their hearing aid’s microphone.
Think about background noise. The transmitter can pick up sudden
unexpected noise, so you should think about moving or turning the transmitter
off for a brief time if it becomes very noisy. Remember to switch it on again.
A child using a radio aid will still be able to hear you, even if you are not in the
classroom. So remember to switch the transmitter off if you leave the room.
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Anything that knocks against the microphone will create noise, so don’t wear
loose jewellery and so on.
If you use a television, video, computer or other audio equipment in the
classroom, the radio aid’s transmitter should be connected to it using an
appropriate lead.
There may be many children in a school using similar-looking radio aids, and
they will all be set up differently to suit each child. So, each child’s radio aid
needs to be clearly identified.
Radio aids must be checked each day to make sure that they are working
properly (see page 24). You should have a system for recording all the faults
on, and repairs carried out to, a child’s individual radio aid. This record will help
to highlight problems that happen often and indicate when a radio aid needs to
be replaced.
Batteries should be charged regularly. With older systems, this may involve
recharging batteries every night. Even rechargeable batteries last for a limited
period and should be replaced regularly.
A child using a radio aid will still be using other forms of communication (for example,
sign language and lipreading). So, for example, you should do the following.
Make sure you have the child’s attention before starting to talk; otherwise they
may miss the first part of your conversation or instructions.
Speak clearly, naturally and at a normal pace. Remember that if you shout,
this will distort your lip patterns. For deaf children using hearing aids,
sudden loud noises can also be painful or startling. And speaking too
slowly or over-exaggerating your mouth patterns will make it harder for a
deaf child to understand you.
Let the child know before you change the topic of your conversation,
otherwise they may find the discussion confusing. It is useful to introduce
the topic first before you go into detail. (For example, ‘The Romans. Today
we are going to focus on the life of the Romans.’)
Encourage other children to speak one at a time and to raise their hand
before speaking so that a deaf child knows who is talking. Repeat
questions or comments made by other children.
Try to keep your hands free so that you can use natural gestures to
support what you are saying.
If you talk for a long period it can be difficult and tiring for a deaf child to
lipread or watch a communication support worker. Keep your sentences
short and remember to explain any new words or technical terms.
Do not expect a deaf child to take notes on what you are saying as they
will not be able to follow what you are saying and take notes at the same
time. This also applies to using videos or slide shows – each time the child
looks down to write, they will miss information.
For an introduction to these important communication issues, see our series of Deaf
Friendly Schools publications or Communicating with your deaf child factsheet.
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9
Taking care of radio aids
Used with care, radio aids should last for several years. Any problems are most
likely to be caused by accessories (leads, microphones and so on) as these
take most of the wear and tear. It is important to check the radio aid regularly.
Parents or support assistants should also carry out a listening test frequently.
Full scientific tests in a test box (a hearing aid analyser) should be carried out
regularly by a fully-trained person, and whenever there is any change to your
child’s hearing aids.
The checks you can do on the radio aid will depend on the model. These
guidelines are for general guidance only. For specific details about checking your
child’s radio aid, talk to their teacher of the deaf or educational audiologist. Most
radio aids need to be listened to through a hearing aid connected to the radio
aid’s receiver.
Before you start, check that the hearing aid is working normally by following the
guidelines in our book Hearing Aids - A guide.
Warning: never listen to any sounds that are at a volume you find
uncomfortable.
Daily checks for radio aids used with
hearing aids
1
Check that the transmitter and the receiver are both
on the same frequency.
Radio aids from different manufacturers use either a
number, letter or colour-coding system. It is
important to check that the transmitter and receiver
match.
2
24
If you are using replaceable batteries, check that
they are fitted correctly. If possible, examine batteries
for splits, cracks and damaged casings. If the
batteries are damaged or show any signs of leaking,
replace them.
3
Check the low-battery indicator, if there is one.
4
Fit the microphone and aerial to the transmitter, if these are part of the radio
aid.
5
If your child is using direct audio input, connect one of your child’s hearing
aids to the radio aid’s receiver, using the normal lead and shoe.
6
If your child uses a neckloop, wear the neckloop yourself during the test. Hook
the hearing aid over your ear, and switch the hearing aid to the ‘T’ setting.
The National Deaf Children’s Society
Radio Aids
7
Connect a stetoclip to the hearing aid. A stetoclip allows a
person to listen to a hearing aid to check how well it is
working. The best stetoclip to use is one with an
attenuator. An attenuator is used with a stetoclip to listen
to powerful hearing aids. The attenuator will reduce the
volume so that the sound is at a comfortable level for you
to listen to. If you have an adjustable attenuator, begin
listening with the volume at its lowest level and gradually
increase it.
8
Switch on the transmitter, receiver and hearing aid. Listen
through the stetoclip. Gently tug and pull any aerial and
microphone lead on the transmitter. You should not hear
any crackling noises (however, there will be some noise
created by you handling the transmitter and its
microphone). Experience will teach you to tell handling
noise from faulty items. Gently squeeze the cases of the
receiver and transmitter and listen for breaks in sound or
unusual noises.
9
Turn on a radio or TV and place the transmitter
microphone next to the loudspeaker. Try to find music
rather than speech. Walk at least 4 to 5 metres away from
the transmitter. This is so you do not confuse the sounds
you hear through the radio aid with those that you hear
through the hearing aid’s microphone. Listen through the
stetoclip and make sure you can hear at different parts
around the room without a break in transmission or a drop
in the sound quality. The sound from the transmitter
should be clear and free from crackling. Gently flex and
wiggle the connections on the receiver to listen for breaks
in sounds or crackling. If it is a binaural fitting (to both
ears) check both ‘shoes’ with both hearing aids and both
arms of the direct audio input lead. Be aware of the
normal noises caused by handling the hearing aid.
10 If you are using a radio aid with a neckloop, gently pull
and wiggle the neckloop and connection leads and listen
for breaks in sounds or crackling.
If there are any problems, try replacing the batteries,
aerial or microphone (if you have any spares). If there
are still problems, contact the person responsible for
maintaining your child’s radio aid.
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Additional daily checks for radio aids with automatic muting
(used with hearing aids)
At the moment, the Connevans fmGenie, Phonic Ear Solaris and Sennheiser
2013 are available with automatic muting. This means that muting can be
switched on or off by a hidden switch. Before checking the automatic mute,
make sure that the muting is switched on. The instruction manual shows how to
check this.
1
Carry out the checks above (points 1 to 9 from page 24) to check that the
radio aid’s connections and the hearing aid all work well.
2
Connect the radio aid’s receiver to the hearing aid and listen in through a
stetoclip. Speak into the hearing aid’s microphone. You should be able to
hear your own voice through the stetoclip. Ask someone else to take the
transmitter some distance from you (preferably the other side of a door) and
ask them to speak into the transmitter microphone, just getting gradually
louder, and then getting gradually quieter.
3
As the person gradually speaks more loudly, you should reach a point
where you find that the level of your voice, as heard through the stetoclip, is
muted (quietened). You should then be able to hear their voice clearly. As
they reduce the level of their voice, the automatic muting system should
turn off and allow you to hear your own voice again through the stetoclip.
4
If your child has two hearing aids, repeat this process for the other hearing
aid and shoe.
The muting indicator (green light) on the front of the Sennheiser 2013 receiver
does not prove that the muting is working. However, it shows that the sound
picked up by the microphone is loud enough for automatic muting to come in.
The indicator will light up even if the automatic muting is switched off.
Additional daily checks for radio aids with manual muting
(used with hearing aids)
At the moment, only the Connevans fmGenie receiver, the Lexis receiver, the
Phonak Microvox receiver, the MLx receiver, the MLxS receiver and some of the
Phonak Microlink receivers have manual muting on the hearing aid’s
microphone. Manual muting is turned on with a switch or button on the receiver.
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1
Carry out the checks above (points 1 to 9 on page 24) to check that the
radio aid’s connections and the hearing aid all work well.
2
Switch the muting on.
3
With the receiver connected to the hearing aid, listen through a stetoclip.
Talk into the hearing aid’s microphone. When you turn the muting on, the
level of your voice should reduce.
4
If your child has two hearing aids, repeat this procedure for the other
hearing aid and shoe.
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Radio Aids
Additional daily checks for radio aids receivers worn entirely
behind-the-ear
Follow the procedure below if you have a Phonak Microlink, MLx or MLxS receiver
or a Lexis receiver.
1
Look closely at the receiver for damage to all the connections, switches and
the casing. If you have a Phonak Microlink receiver with a removable antenna,
check that it is fitted securely and turned fully clockwise. If the antenna
keeps turning and does not tighten, it is broken and the receiver needs to be
repaired.
2
Check that you have the correct shoe. Some hearing aids must use a special
shoe with behind-the-ear radio aid receivers. Often this is different from the
shoe you would use with other radio aid receivers, although it may look
similar. If you are not sure, check with the person who supplied the radio aid.
3
Before you fit the shoe, check that it is not cracked or damaged. Check that
none of the wires, connections or metal pins inside the shoe are bent or
broken. If the shoe appears damaged in any way, it will probably need
replacing.
4
Fit the receiver to the hearing aid, turn the hearing aid on and listen in through
a stetoclip.
5
Switch the transmitter on and listen to sounds from the transmitter. Gently
squeeze the transmitter and flex the microphone (if you have one). Sounds
should be consistent and crackle free (except for handling noises).
6
Put the transmitter near to a radio or TV, or ask someone to talk continually
into the transmitter’s microphone. Walk away from the transmitter and make
sure that sound is not interrupted and that the quality of sound does not
change over the distance you need to use the system over.
7
If there is a muting switch on the receiver, switch it to the ‘mute’ position (this
is sometimes called the ‘FM Only’ position). Talk into the hearing aid’s
microphone. When you turn the muting on, the level of your voice should be
reduced. (The ‘mute’ position may not work with some hearing aids.)
Regular checks by teachers and technicians
Your child’s radio aid should be set up by an audiologist, educational audiologist,
teacher of the deaf or qualified technician. They should regularly test the system
to make sure it is working properly.
The method of setting up a radio aid is sometimes known as ‘balancing’. This
involves setting the radio aid’s volume controls (and sometimes the tone controls)
to an appropriate level. A hearing-aid analyser (or ‘test box’) is used to set up a
radio aid.
The standard procedure for setting up a radio aid is known as the FM Advantage
procedure. To find out more, speak to your audiologist or teacher of the deaf or
contact our technology team by phoning our Freephone helpline.
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Daily checks for radio aids used with
cochlear implants
If your child has a cochlear implant, you cannot listen to the sounds they are hearing.
However, you may be able to listen to the sounds being transmitted through the
radio aid system before they are processed by the cochlear implant. To do this you
will need to get some special earphones from your child’s cochlear implant centre.
Different cochlear implants work in different ways. The cochlear implant team will
show you how to use the earphones with your child’s cochlear implant. If you have
these earphones, you can carry out the following checks each day:
1 Connect the earphones to the cochlear implant processor as your
cochlear implant team has shown you. Check that the processor is
working correctly as they have shown you.
2 Connect the radio aid and switch on the transmitter, receiver and
processor in the order that the cochlear implant team have told you.
3 Check that the transmitter and the receiver are both on the same
frequency. Radio aids from different manufacturers use either a
number, letter or colour-coding system. It is important to check that
the transmitter and receiver match.
4 If you are using replaceable batteries, check that they are fitted
correctly. If possible, examine batteries for splits, cracks and
damaged cases. If the batteries are damaged or show any signs of
leaking, replace them.
5 Check the low-battery indicator, if there is one.
6 Fit the satellite microphone and aerial to the transmitter, if these are
part of the radio aid.
7 Listen through the earphones. Gently tug and pull any aerial and
microphone lead on the transmitter. You should not hear any
crackling noises (however, there will be some noise created by you
handling the transmitter and its microphone). Experience will teach
you to tell handling noise from faulty items. Gently squeeze the
cases of the receiver and transmitter and listen for breaks in sound
or unusual noises.
8 Turn on a radio or TV and place the transmitter microphone next to
the loudspeaker. Try to find music rather than speech. Walk at least
4 to 5 metres away from the transmitter. This is so you do not
confuse the sounds you hear through the radio aid with those that
you hear through the cochlear implant headset microphone. Listen
through the earphones and make sure you can hear at a consistent
level when in different parts around the room. The sound from the
transmitter should be clear and free from crackling. Gently flex and
wiggle the connections on the receiver to listen for breaks in
sounds or crackling. Be aware of the normal noises caused by
handling the cochlear implant.
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B. Daily checks for radio aids with muting
(used with a cochlear implant)
Radio aid muting systems will not work with some cochlear implants. You
should check with your cochlear implant centre whether your child can use
muting with their radio aid. The cochlear implant team will also be able to show
you the best way to check that the muting system is working.
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10
Classroom soundfield
systems and acoustics
Classroom soundfield systems should not be confused with radio aids, although
they are designed for similar purposes. Soundfield is an increasingly popular
system designed to improve listening conditions for all children in the classroom.
How do soundfield systems work?
A soundfield system includes a microphone, worn by the teacher. This is linked
to an amplifier by either an FM radio transmitter or an infra-red transmitter, to
avoid the need for wires and allow the teacher to move around the room.
Loudspeakers are fitted around the classroom, often on the walls or in the ceiling.
The soundfield system makes the teacher’s voice louder. However, the aim is not
to produce a very loud sound. Soundfield is not like a public address system.
The aim is to produce a clear and consistent level of sound throughout the
classroom. The teacher’s voice is made just loud enough to be heard above
unwanted background noises. A soundfield system that is set up correctly may
not be noticeable. The teacher should not notice a big difference when they are
speaking.
The soundfield amplifier may have controls that allow the output to be set to the
correct levels for the room.
Who can it benefit?
Most children who wear a hearing aid or a cochlear implant will still need to use a
personal radio aid. The group most likely to benefit from soundfield are children
with mild deafness, who may otherwise be given no extra support at school.
There are a large number of children who could fit into this category, including
those who have temporary deafness (for example, from glue ear).
A soundfield system is also very helpful to the teacher. As well as helping them to
avoid straining their voice, research has suggested that soundfield systems can
improve discipline and concentration for all children.
Can radio aids be used in classrooms with soundfield
systems?
Children who use radio aids can continue to use them very successfully in a
classroom with a soundfield system. However, both devices must be set up
correctly to work alongside each other. How to do this will depend on the
particular products. Teachers also need to be clear about the correct way to use
the technology.
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Will soundfield systems solve all the problems of poor
acoustics (sound quality) in a classroom?
If it is practical to improve the quality of sound in a classroom (for example, by
lowering ceilings, changing wall coverings and adding soft flooring) this should be
the first step. Fitting a soundfield system in a room with very poor acoustics could
make listening conditions more difficult, rather than improving them.
Detailed standards and guidelines on sound quality in schools is given in the DfES
publication, Building Bulletin 93: Acoustic Design of Schools. This is available on
the website www.teachernet.gov.uk/acoustics, or from The Stationery Office by
phoning 0870 600 5522.
For general information about listening conditions and acoustics in classrooms,
contact our technology team by phoning our Freephone helpline.
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11
Appendix 1
Technical specifications and suppliers
FM radio systems available in the UK
This section contains technical information summarising the features available on current radio
aids. For more help with this information and a product update, phone our Freephone helpline.
Connevans CRM220
Transmitter (220T)
Receiver (220R)
● lapel, head-worn or built-in microphone
option
● optional microphone for environmental
sounds when using neckloop
● conference microphone option
● conference microphone option
● ‘battery good’ and a ‘battery low’ indicator
● auxiliary input socket
● fixed frequency (from 35 frequencies
used in the UK)
● control to adjust level of sound from
transmitter
● alkaline or rechargeable PP3 battery
(batteries removed for recharging)
● dual reception frequency – one fixed on one
of 35 frequencies used in the UK and the
option to switch to a plug-in module on one
of the remaining 34 frequencies
● intelligent charger available
● auxiliary input socket – microphone
switched off
● plug-in aerial
● ‘microphone mute’ switch available
● AF frequency response modification
switches – high lift and low cut (a form of
tone control)
● control to adjust the auxiliary input and
optional microphone level
● battery and charging as transmitter
Available from: Connevans Ltd
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● ‘battery good’ and ’battery low’ light
Radio Aids
Connevans fmGenie
Transmitter
Receiver
● lapel, head-worn, conference or built-in
microphone option
● battery charging as transmitter
● manual mute option on the microphone
● switch between 35 frequencies used in
the UK
● choice of ‘automatic gain control’
recovery times (slow/fast)
● 500Hz test-tone facility to help with
checking reception in the radio aid
system
● switch between 35 frequencies used in
the UK
● high or low outputs available
● optional environmental microphone for
environmental sounds if using neckloop
● sound indicator and display of FM signal
strength
● display of battery level and ‘battery low’
indicator
● switch for using the transmitter over a
long distance or a standard distance
● no FM indicator
● sound indicator and display of signal
strength
● automatic mute available
● manual mute option
● ‘low battery’ indicator and display of
battery level
● tone adjustable and on/off switch on the
controls
● display of a microphone fault or aerial
fault
● auxiliary output socket
● auxiliary input socket with choice of
having the microphone switched off or
on
● automatic power off
● channel number display
● intelligent battery charging using plug-in
charger, or you can remove the batteries
to recharge, or use alkaline batteries
● channel number display
● option to automatically tune to
transmitter frequency
● lockable volume control
● concealed controls
● automatic power off
Available from: Connevans Ltd
Radio Aids
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Lexis
Transmitter
Receiver
● built-in microphone – hand held, neck
worn or table stand
● behind-the-ear receiver
● head-worn microphone available as
optional extra
● LCD display with channel and battery
level indicator
● charging from external charger
● uses rechargeable or disposable alkaline
AAA batteries
● up to 14 programmable frequencies
● switch to choose between 3
microphones – omnidirectional, ‘focus’
and ‘superfocus’
● compatible with a wide range of hearing
aids using specific direct audio input
shoes
● three-position switch – ‘off’, ‘FM with
hearing aid microphone muted’ and ‘FM
with hearing aid microphone switched
on’
● one fixed frequency (from a choice of 14)
if used in the UK
● adjustable FM gain control +/- 7dB
● auxiliary audio input
● plug-in aerial
Available from:
PC Werth Ltd
Oticon Ltd
Starkey Ltd
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Phonak Campus S
Phonak/Widex Handymic
Transmitter
Transmitter
Multifunctional lapel microphone
omnidirectional/directional) or head-worn
microphone
● built-in microphone – hand held, neck
worn or table stand
● LCD display with channel and batterylevel indicator
● charging from external charger
● up to 40 programmable frequencies
● can be programmed to pre-selected
channel
● auto-tune facility for MLxS receivers
● charging from a plug in charger
● auxiliary input socket
● ‘battery low’ and ’on charge’ light
● Choose from 5 UK frequencies through
plug-in units
● switch to choose between 3
microphones – omnidirectional,
directional, superdirectional
● auxiliary audio input (microphone
switched off)
● plug-in aerial
Available from:
Phonak UK Ltd
Connevans Ltd
Radio Aids
Available from:
Phonak UK Ltd
PC Werth Ltd
Connevans Ltd
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Phonak SmartLink SX
Phonak TelCom
Transmitter
Transmitter
● built-in microphone (omnidirectional,
directional and superdirectional)
The TelCom is a fixed transmitter that is
designed to transmit sound from the television
and telephone direct to the wearer’s FM
receivers. When the telephone handset is
picked up, TelCom automatically mutes the TV
audio signal so that the caller can be heard.
When the handset is replaced, the sound from
the TV is restored to its original level.
● aerial built into neck cord
● LCD display with channel and batterylevel indicator
● up to 40 programmable frequencies
● auto-tune facility for MLxS receivers
● remote control for some Phonak hearing
aids
Wallpilot
● plug in charger
● auxiliary input socket
● Bluetooth enabled for compatible mobile
phones
Available from:
Phonak UK Ltd
Connevans Ltd
WallPilot is an optional extra that is designed
to automatically synchronize MLxS receivers
to the frequency used in the classroom as
the pupil enters the room. It has an
adjustable operating range of up to 2 metres.
Both available from:
Phonak UK Ltd
Connevans Ltd
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Phonak/Widex
Microlink MLx
Phonak MLxS
Receiver
Receiver
Use Handymic transmitter, Campus S
transmitter, Smartlink SX transmitters or
alternative compatible transmitter.
● behind-the-ear receiver
Use Campus S or SmartLink SX transmitters.
Other compatible transmitters may be used
but will not be able to change the frequency
of the receiver.
● compatible with a wide range of hearing
aids using specific direct audio input
shoes
● compatible with most behind-the-ear
hearing aids and the Cochlear Esprit 3G
processor
● hearing aid may need to be altered
● multi-frequency - can be tuned in to any
UK frequency using the appropriate
transmitter
● three-position switch – ‘off,’ ‘FM with
hearing aid microphone muted’ and ‘FM
with hearing aid microphone switched on’
● sleep mode
● one frequency fixed from five used in the
UK
● Microlink BAHA version available for the
Compact BAHA
● Microlink BAHA version available for the
Compact BAHA
● ML8S version available for Phonak Claro
and Perseo behind-the-ear hearing aids
● ML8 version available for Phonak Claro
behind-the-ear hearing aids
Available from:
Available from:
Phonak UK Ltd
Connevans Ltd
Phonak UK Ltd
PC Werth Ltd
Connevans Ltd
Radio Aids
The National Deaf Children’s Society
37
Phonak CI S
Phonak EduLink
Receiver
Use with the Campus S or SmartLink SX
transmitter. You can use other compatible
transmitters but they will not be able to
change the frequency of the receiver.
● compatible with most cochlear implant
processors
● can be tuned into any UK frequency using
the appropriate transmitter
● sleep mode
EduLink is a small, behind-the-ear, multi
frequency FM receiver. It may benefit
children, who do not wear hearing aids, with
certain conditions such as auditory
processing disorder, attention deficit and
hyperactivity disorder, unilateral sensorineural hearing loss and varying conductive
hearing loss. It can be used with the Campus
S or SmartLink SX transmitters. Other
compatible transmitters may be used but will
not be able to change the frequency of the
receiver
Available from:
Available from:
Phonak UK Ltd
Phonak UK Ltd
38
The National Deaf Children’s Society
Radio Aids
Phonic Ear Solaris
Transmitter (571T)
Receiver 572R version
● lapel directional, lapel omnidirectional,
head-worn, conference, or built-in
microphone available
● ‘low battery’ light and ‘no FM’ light
● switch between 34 frequencies used in
the UK
● choose from high or low output with a
hidden switch
● auxiliary input socket
● FM Plus (automatic muting of the hearing
aid’s microphone, hidden on/off switch)
● ‘low battery’ light and ‘no FM’ light
● switch between 34 frequencies used in
the UK
● 3 battery charge options:
- in dual-pocket charger
- plug-in charger
- remove batteries for charge
● auxiliary socket with a hidden switch to
choose between different sound sources
● will run on two alkaline AA batteries
● FM level control
● TMX digital neckloop facility – hidden
on/off switch
● volume controls are lockable
Available from:
● batteries and charging as transmitter 571T
PC Werth Ltd
575R version
All the features of 572R plus
● built-in environmental microphone for
environmental sounds if using
conventional neckloop (not TMX)
Phonic Ear Solaris Binaural
With essentially the same design and features
as the Solaris (above), the Solaris Binaural
receiver also incorporates two powerful
hearing aids. The Solaris Binaural must be
provided and fitted by an audiologist.
Radio Aids
The National Deaf Children’s Society
39
Phonic Ear Portable Soundfield
Transmitter
Receiver
● single or multi-frequency options available
● single or multi-frequency options available
● auxiliary input socket
● Plug in charger or remove batteries to
recharge (both transmitters), or use a
drop-in charger (Solaris PE572R or PE
575R receivers only)
● ‘low-battery’ light and ‘no FM’ light
(Solaris PE571T transmitter only)
● plug-in charger or remove batteries to
recharge (both transmitters), or use a
drop-in charger (Solaris PE571T
transmitter only)
● volume control
● head-worn microphone, lapel microphone
Available from:
PC Werth Ltd
40
The National Deaf Children’s Society
Radio Aids
Sennheiser 2013
Transmitter
Receiver
● lapel or built-in microphone option
● built-in microphone for environmental
sound when using neckloop (hidden
control to adjust level and hidden switch
to turn off environmental microphone)
● conference microphone option
● ‘battery low’ light
● switch between 16 frequencies used in the
UK (15 on some versions)
● dual-pocket charger – for sealed
Sennheiser battery packs
● option to use two AA alkaline or
rechargeable batteries in opening battery
pack
● auxiliary socket to accept input from
different sources, with choice of
microphone switched on or off
● hidden microphone sensitivity control
● ‘battery low’ light and ‘no FM’ light
● switch between 16 frequencies used in
the UK (15 on some versions)
● separate high- and low-output sockets
● automatic mute available
● hidden switch to turn off automatic
muting
● green light to show when automatic
muting will come in if switched on
● hidden control to adjust level of sound
from transmitter
● hidden control to change level mute
comes in at
● battery and charging as transmitter
Available from:
BioAcoustics Ltd
Radio Aids
The National Deaf Children’s Society
41
Addresses of suppliers:
BioAcoustics Ltd
26 Guildford Street
Luton
Bedfordshire
LU1 2NR
Phonak UK Ltd
Cygnet Court
Lakeside Drive
Warrington
WA1 1PP
Phone: 01582 431000
Fax: 01582 488227
Text: 01582 481411
Email: info@bioacoustics.com
Website: www.bioacoustics.com
Phone: 01925 623600
Fax: 01925 245700
Email: info@phonak.co.uk
Website: www.phonak.co.uk
Connevans Ltd
54 Albert Road North
Reigate
Surrey
RH2 9YR
Phone: 01737 247571
Text: 01737 243134
Fax: 01737 223475
Email: mail@connevans.com
Website: www.connevans.com
Starkey Laboratories Limited
William F. Austin House
Bramhall Technology Park
Pepper Road
Hazel Grove
Stockport
SK7 5BX
Phone: 0500 262131
Fax: 0500 262350
Email: sales@starkey.co.uk
Website: www.starkey.co.uk
Oticon Ltd
Third Floor, Quadrant House
33-45 Croydon Road
Caterham
Surrey
CR3 6PG
Phone: 01883 331720
Fax: 01883 331729
Email: info@oticon.co.uk
Website: www.oticon.co.uk
PC Werth Ltd
Audiology House
45 Nightingale Lane
London
SW12 8SP
Phone: 020 8772 2778
Fax: 020 8772 2701
Email: pcwerth@pcwerth.co.uk
Website: www.pcwerth.co.uk
42
The National Deaf Children’s Society
Radio aid images kindly supported by:
BioAcoustics Ltd
Connevans Ltd
Oticon Ltd
PC Werth Ltd
Phonak UK Ltd
Radio Aids
Appendix 2
12
Frequency comparison table
(for school use)
Frequency comparison table reprinted courtesy of the Ewing Foundation.
MHz
Connevans
fmGenie
& CRM 220
Before
January
2004
Phonic Ear Solaris
After
Before
January January
2004
2004
After
January
2004
173.350
00
N
38
13
13
173.400
01
A
39
15
15
173.450
173.465
40
02
B
173.500
173.545
19
C
Lexis
19
23
23
173.600
43
25
25
26
26
173.695
26
44
05
P
Before
January
2004
After
January
2004
X
0
0
X
1
1
1
X
04 RED
X
05 ORANGE
2
2
3
3
X
4
X
8
X
27
28
MLxS
X
24
173.650
H02
21
23
D
02 AQUA
03 BLUE
42
04
MLx
X
173.550
173.640
Microvox
01 GREEN
15
Sennheiser
Mikroport 2013
Phonak
17
41
03
Oticon
and
Phonic
Ear
4
X
28
11 GREEN
X
5
5
173.700
45
29
X
6
173.750
46
30
X
7
173.775
06 Q&
173.800
173.825
12 AQUA
47
07
R
32
33
X
32
33
X
13 BLUE
X
173.850
48
34
X
173.900
49
35
X
173.950
174.000
08
S
09
174.050
174.070
10
11
14 RED
X
52
38
X
39
U
V
36
X
39
15 ORANGE
X
40
41
54
12
36
37
53
174.150
174.185
36
51
T
174.100
174.120
50
43
9
7
8
41
42
42
16 YELLOW
H16
X
E
9
X
41
43
6
A
A
X
17 WHITE
X
B
1] Phonak microvok MLxS can be programmed to any frequency
Radio Aids
The National Deaf Children’s Society
43
See page 18 for important information about using transmitters and receivers from different
manufacturers.
MHz
Connevans
fmGenie
& CRM 220
Before
January
2004
Phonic Ear Solaris
After
Before
January January
2004
2004
After
January
2004
Oticon
and
Phonic
Ear
Lexis
Sennheiser
Mikroport 2013
Phonak
Microvox
MLx
1
MLxS
174.200
55
44
X
174.250
56
45
X
174.270
13
W
46
46
174.300
57
47
174.350
58
48
174.360
14
X
174.400
174.415
59
15
Z
174.450
174.500
16
174.550
174.600
17
E
174.650
174.675
49
X
48
49
51
51
19 BLACK
X
51
20 VIOLET
H20
X
X
61
53
X
62
54
X
F
55
55
06 YELLOW
H06
57
58
X
58
07 WHITE
59
X
174.750
66
60
X
G
61
61
61
62
174.800
67
62
174.850
68
63
174.885
20
H
64
08 GREY
H08
X
X
64
09 BLACK
X
69
65
X
174.950
70
66
X
175.000
71
67
175.050
21
J
68
F
X
174.900
175.020
B
X
65
19
E
X
174.700
174.770
D
X
52
55
F
X
60
63
After
January
2004
C
X
50
64
18
18 GREY
Before
January
2004
67
68
72
C
X
10 VIOLET
X
X
D
1] Phonak microvok MLxS can be programmed to any frequency
44
The National Deaf Children’s Society
Radio Aids
13
Appendix 3
Technical terms
The following list explains some of the technical terms professionals may use when talking
about radio aids. Some terms may have several different meanings, but they are defined here
in the context of radio aids. Most of the terms are explained more fully in the main text.
Amplify
Attenuator
Make sounds louder.
1 A device which is used with a stetoclip to allow a hearing person to listen to powerful
hearing aids at a comfortable level.
2 Tiny control in some ‘shoes’ which may be adjusted when a radio aid is fitted.
Audiologist
A person qualified in assessing hearing loss and fitting hearing aids.
Audio output socket
A socket that allows a tape recorder to be connected to a radio aid, so that lessons and
lectures can be recorded for later use.
Auxiliary input socket
A socket that allows a tape recorder, television or other source to be connected directly
to a radio aid.
Balancing
The process of setting up a radio aid to work correctly with a hearing aid.
Binaural
Affecting both ears.
Body-worn hearing aid
A hearing aid where the microphone and volume control are part of a small box worn on
the body, often using a chest harness. This is connected by a lead to the earphones.
Bone anchored
A type of hearing aid which involves a surgical procedure to allow
hearing aid
a vibrating device to be attached to the skull. The device transmits sound to the inner ear.
Bone conduction aid
A type of hearing aid which uses a vibrating device held against the skull to transmit
sound to the inner ear.
Boom microphone
A hands-free microphone designed to be worn on the head so it stays close to the
mouth. It is the same as a head-worn microphone
Behind-the-ear
A type of hearing aid worn behind-the-ear.
Charger
Device used to charge rechargeable batteries.
Cochlear implant
Device that is surgically implanted into the inner ear to help with hearing.
Conference
A microphone used in a group situation to pick up the voices of
microphone
a number of speakers. Often placed at the centre of a table.
Coupling
The process of connecting a radio aid to a hearing aid with or without wires.
Direct audio input
A system available on some hearing aids that allows an external sound source (for
example, a radio aid) to be connected electronically.
Directional microphone
A microphone that gives priority to sounds coming from one direction only.
Disabled Student Allowance An allowance for disabled students. It does not depend on a household’s income.
Education and
A local government department in Northern Ireland that is responsible for running
Library Board (ELB)
the educational services in the area.
Environmental sounds
Sounds near to the listening child, including their own voice.
FM
The type of radio communication technology used in radio aids. The same technology is
used in radios.
Frequency
The channel a radio aid is on.
Frequency response
One standard of measuring the performance of a hearing aid or radio aid.
Head-worn microphone
A hands-free microphone designed to be worn on the head so it stays close to the
mouth.
Hearing aid
An electronic device designed to help a deaf child or adult to hear sounds.
Hearing-aid analyser
Scientific test equipment to evaluate the performance of a hearing aid. Can also be used
to carry out tests on radio aids.
Hearing impaired service
An education department within a local authority that is responsible for education services
for deaf children. Some local authorities may also call them sensory support service.
Inductive coupling
A way of transferring an electronic signal from a radio aid to a hearing aid without wires,
through an electromagnetic field.
The National Deaf Children’s Society
45
In-situ charging
In-the-ear hearing aid
Lavalier microphone
Local education authority
Recharging batteries without removing them from the radio aid.
A type of hearing aid worn entirely inside the ear.
A microphone worn around the neck on a cord.
Local government departments in England and Wales that is responsible for running the
educational services in the area.
Loop
A wire loop that produces an electromagnetic field.
MHz
Megahertz. A unit that frequency is measured in.
Microphone
A device that converts sound into an electronic signal. Many different types of
microphone are available.
Monaural
One ear only.
Mute
Quieten.
Neckloop
A wire worn around the neck, designed to connect a radio aid to a hearing aid.
NiCd
Nickel cadmium – a type of rechargeable battery.
NiMH
Nickel metal hydride – a type of rechargeable battery.
Noise
Unwanted sounds.
Omnidirectional microphone A microphone that picks up sounds from all directions.
Digital neckloop
A digital neckloop combines many of the advantages of a standard neckloop and direct
audio input (DAI).
Radio aid
FM transmitter and receiver, designed to improve listening conditions for a deaf child or
adult. Generally used together with hearing aids.
Radio hearing aid
Combines a radio receiver and left and right hearing aids in one body-worn unit. Can be
used with or without a radio transmitter.
Receiver
Part of a radio aid worn by the deaf child or adult.
Record of needs
A document that sets out a child’s needs and all the extra help they should receive.
(Scotland only)
Reverberation
Echo – sounds echoing around a room that can make listening conditions more difficult
for deaf children.
Sensory support service
An education department within a local authority that is responsible for education services
for deaf children. Some local authorities may also call them hearing impaired service.
Shoe
Allows a direct audio input (DAI) lead to be connected to a hearing aid. There are many
types and they are usually specific to one model of hearing aid. Some ‘shoes’ include a
built-in attenuator that reduces the level of the signal received by the hearing aid.
Signal-to-noise ratio
A measurement of the level of a desired sound in relation to unwanted sounds.
Silhouette inductor
An alternative to a neckloop that connects a radio aid, without wires, to a behind-the-ear
hearing aid. It is worn between the head and the hearing aid.
Soundfield FM system
Designed to improve the sound quality for hearing or deaf children in a classroom. Not to
be confused with a radio aid.
Special educational needs A member of staff at a school who has responsibility for co-ordinating the way special
co-ordinator (SENCO)
educational needs are met within that school.
Statement of special
A document that sets out a child’s needs and all the extra help they should receive
educational needs
(England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Stetoclip
A device that allows a hearing person to listen to a hearing aid to check how well it is
working.
Teacher of the deaf
A teacher who holds a specialist qualification in teaching deaf children.
Telecoil
A feature available on most hearing aids that allows a child to use a neckloop.
Telepin
A device used to receive signals from a PCM neckloop.
Test box
Scientific test equipment to evaluate the performance of a hearing aid. Can also be used
to carry out tests on radio aids. Test box is same as a Hearing-aid analyser.
Tie-clip microphone
A microphone designed to be clipped to the speaker’s clothing.
Transition plan
A document to make sure that a child who has had a statement of special needs or a
record of needs while at school, continues to get the support they need when they leave
school to go to work or to further or higher education.
Transmitter
Part of a radio aid worn by the speaker.
TMX
A brand name used by Phonic Ear to describe their digital neckloop system.
Unilateral deafness
Deafness in one ear only, or deafness that is significantly greater in one ear than the other.
Vibrating transducer
A device that changes electrical signals into vibrations.
WDI
A brand name used by Connevans Ltd to describe their digital neckloop system.
46
The National Deaf Children’s Society
Radio Aids
48
NDCS is an organisation whose members include parents, families, carers and professionals
working with deaf children. We support parents in helping their child to develop their skills and
abilities.
We provide the following.
● A Freephone helpline 0808 800 8880 (voice and text) and a range of publications for
parents and professionals that can be downloaded from our website at
www.ndcs.org.uk
● Clear, balanced information and advice on many issues relating to childhood deafness
● An audiologist and technology team that can give advice and answer any questions
about deafness and equipment that may help deaf children
● A children’s equipment fund and an opportunity to borrow equipment
● Support with benefits claims and Disability Appeals Tribunals
● Education advice and support at Special Educational Needs Tribunals and Appeals
● Family weekends, special events and training for families of deaf children
● A network of regional staff and local contacts
● Personal development and training for young deaf and hearing people
● Sports, arts and outdoor activities for young deaf and hearing people
● TALK, a magazine for members produced six times a year
The National Deaf Children’s Society
Registered office: 15 Dufferin Street, London EC1Y 8UR
Switchboard: 020 7490 8656
Fax: 020 7251 5020
NDCS Freephone helpline: 0808 800 8880 (voice and text),
open between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Friday
Email: helpline@ndcs.org.uk
Website: www.ndcs.org.uk
ISBN:
0 904691 56x
Registered Charity No 1016532
February 2005
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