Yes, AirPods can also be used as hearing aids.  Here's how.

Yes, AirPods can also be used as hearing aids. Here’s how.

Every Friday, the Washington Post Help Desk answers readers’ questions about technology in their lives. This week, we heard from an 82-year-old reader in Atlanta wondering if people who use hearing aids can also wear headphones, and if tiny in-ear headphones could one day replace hearing aids entirely.

It’s a big moment for that matter – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided this month to greenlight the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids, the first time that hearing-impaired Americans can access non-prescription aids. It also opens the door for tech companies to adapt their headphones to FDA requirements and market them as hearing aids. Sony, for example, said it plans to make over-the-counter hearing aids. Audio company Jabra already makes headphones with what it calls “medical-grade” hearing enhancement.

For people who already wear hearing aids, most contemporary devices are Bluetooth-enabled, says Lindsay Creed, associate practice director of audiology at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This means you can connect them to your audio source without any cables. Check with your hearing care professional or manufacturer to find out if your hearing aids are Bluetooth compatible and how to “pair” them with an audio source such as a cell phone, computer or MP3 player.

Coming soon to a phone near you: a new wave of accessibility tools

If your hearing aid does not have Bluetooth, the manufacturer may sell an adapter that acts as an intermediary between your phone and your hearing aid. Absent that, you can still use a pair of behind-the-ear, over-the-ear, or in-ear headphones, audiologists told me — just be sure to keep the volume around 50% to avoid further damage. .

Whether a good pair of headphones could replace a hearing aid entirely depends, says Payal Anand, director of audiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Headphones can provide some amplification, but they will be limited in terms of amplification and personalization,” she said.

So-called hearing aids, or hearing-enhancing headphones, can work very well for people with mild hearing loss or problems in noisy environments, Anand said. Apple, Beats, Bose and Panasonic are the brands her patients have had the most luck with for wireless headphones with amplification or noise cancellation, she said.

How to Adjust Your Headphones for Better Hearing

If you have latest-generation Apple or Beats headphones, Apple devices allow you to adjust sound levels using an audiogram or hearing test. The best results will come from a test administered by an audiologist, but in a pinch, an audiogram app can estimate your levels of hearing loss. I used the Mimi Hearing Test app to measure the high and low sounds I could hear at different volumes. Then I shared my results with the Apple Health app. Finally, I went to Settings -> Accessibility -> Audio/Visual -> Headset Hosting. I turned the green slider to the “on” position, then pressed “Custom audio setup” to tell the phone to use my unique audiogram to adjust the boost, transparency, tone, noise reduction ambient noise and talk amplification levels on my AirPods.

Your custom AirPods settings should remain the same even if you use the headphones with an Android device.

To change sound settings on an Android phone, try going to Settings -> Sounds & Haptics -> Advanced Sound Settings -> Sound Quality & Effects -> Adapt Sound. Select your age and “preview” the sound to see if the adjustment is useful. Go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Hearing Enhancements to enable “hearing aid support” for better sound quality, adjust the balance between your left and right ears when using headphones, or switch to mono audio (only one ear).

Remember: you can always consult an audiologist for help with setting up your headphones or over-the-counter hearing aids.

According to Anand. In short: they will be a cost-effective resource for people with mild to moderate hearing loss or who want a specialized extra pair for exercise or other specific use.

For example: Creed asked a 90-year-old patient to bring in an old pair of hearing aids for fine-tuning. She had written a “to do list” that included skydiving, and she didn’t want her new hearing aid to fall 10,000 feet.

“She’s been skydiving three or four times with these old hearing aids,” Creed said.

Headphones with sophisticated hearing enhancement software are an exciting step towards improving the affordability and accessibility of hearing aids. (Only one in five people with hearing loss get the treatment they need, Creed noted, and some research has linked hearing loss to dementia.) But if you have moderate to severe hearing loss, don’t do not throw away these traditional aids. just now.

#AirPods #hearing #aids #Heres

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