Sleep in Noisy Environments: RK Audiology’s Top Suggestions

Sleep in Noisy Environments: RK Audiology’s Top Suggestions

Between our heavily populated cities and our commuter culture, finding some peace and quiet to sleep can be a challenge – even in your own home. If you’re experiencing problems related to sleep in noisy environments, you’re not alone. While healthy nutrition and exercise practices (as well as that perfect pillow) can help sleep overall, RK Audiology has some suggestions for getting a peaceful night’s sleep in environments that aren’t so peaceful.

Sound Machines

Sound machine technology has vastly improved over time. You can even find apps that offer a variety of features, from mixing your own soundtrack to offering pre-bedtime meditations to put you in the right mindset.

Our app recommendation: White Noise Pro (for iOS & Android)

Foam Earplugs

Perhaps the simplest way to catch some Z’s when you’re at home or abroad is basic foam earplugs. These are inexpensive, widely available in most drug stores, and easy to take with you anywhere. A pair fits effortlessly in an overnight bag, the pocket of a handbag or backpack, or even your own back pocket.

Custom Earplugs

If you’re looking to level up on earplugs, you can’t go wrong with a custom-fitted pair. These upgrades on basic foam earplugs are form-fitting, made of soft material, and offer greater comfort when sleeping.

Check out our favorite models: https://rkaudiology.com/custom-fit/

Earbuds with Audio Stimulation

One of the things we recommend to our clients with tinnitus is auditory stimulation. Streaming podcasts, or playing music or an audiobook before bed does wonders to help people fall asleep.

Sleep in Noisy Environments Resources

There are many resources to help you find that elusive undisturbed rest:

Finding ways to prevent pesky noises from ruining your slumber is easier than ever, whether you’re on that red-eye for a job, or just want to block out the construction down the street (or hallway). For more information on better sleep in noisy environments, contact us or schedule an appointment today!

Hearing Accessibility Gets a Boost with the Apple Watch®

Hearing Accessibility Gets a Boost with the Apple Watch®

Hearing accessibility is getting the boost it deserves with new Apple Watch features. Apple’s hearing initiative is making it easier than ever for those with hearing issues to manage solutions to everyday problems. It’s as simple as the press of a button.

Apple’s Hearing Health Study

Early in 2019, Apple announced a new health initiative that would tackle some major issues involving heart health, women’s health, and hearing health. They have partnered with organizations like the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization to create studies through their Research app, which they believe “democratizes how medical research is conducted.” Late last year, they rolled out a number of new features on some of their most popular devices.
Hearing Accessibility with the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch® has some impressive features in store for those who need better hearing accessibility. These features utilize tactile response as well as visual alerts to help those with hearing issues. When paired with the iPhone®, they are revolutionizing hearing accessibility.

  • Noise App: Track decibel levels in your environment to make good decisions about your hearing health and protect your hearing.
  • Taptic Engine: Receive tactile sensations to warn you of upcoming announcements. A simple “tap” alerts you so you never miss an important message.
  • Scribble: Write a response by scribbling simple text on the display.
  • Mono Audio: Allows you to adjust balance in Bluetooth headphones to compensate for hearing issues in one ear or the other.

Hearing Accessibility with iPhone®

These additional iPhone® apps and features add to Apple’s accessibility initiative.

  • Live Listen: Works with your hearing in noise devices to focus on conversations in loud places.
  • Siri: Set up Siri to type instead of speak commands and ask questions.
  • Facetime: Long used by deaf and hard of hearing people, this app comes on all Mac and Apple devices.
  • iMessage: Unlimited messages in this text-based app help keep you connected with everyone.
  • Closed Caption: Purchase CC-supported videos in the iTunes Store or iTunes U and watch on your phone.

Thanks to the Apple Watch® and iPhone®, hearing accessibility is becoming better than ever. To learn more about how to integrate Apple products to your lifestyle, schedule an appointment with RK Audiology today!

Presidents Day: A History of Presidents and Hearing Loss

Presidents Day: A History of Presidents and Hearing Loss

United States presidents have had to face many challenges over the centuries: war, social upheaval, illness, and injury. It’s no surprise, then, that the fact that some presidents had various hearing loss issues rarely makes it into our textbooks. However, we could learn a lot from the history of presidents and hearing loss. It shows us that everyone – even those in the highest office in the land – deal with everyday health issues and find ways to overcome hardship.

An Early History of Presidents and Hearing Loss

The United States, like many countries, was forged from the ashes of war. So, our story begins with our very first president, George Washington, who emerged from the Revolutionary War with pronounced hearing loss. The constant barrage of cannon fire, musket and pistol fire, and other wartime environments led to hearing problems after his military service that he would carry with him for the rest of his life.

War has not been the only cause of hearing problems in our highest office. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, had hearing loss, likely due to his exposure to hunting rifle fire. It caused him much difficulty, as he noted in one of his letters: “My hearing is distinct in particular conversation, but confused when several voices cross each other, which unfits me for the society of the table.” Other presidents throughout history have also experienced hearing loss due to gunfire, including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

As with many people, some presidents experienced hearing loss due to natural factors such as age and illness. This was often after leaving office, as in the case of President Teddy Roosevelt, who lost hearing in one ear after having an abscess removed. President Herbert Hoover had age-related hearing loss after leaving office. It would make him the first president to use a device we now take for granted.

Hearing Aids in the Oval Office and Beyond

Electronic hearing aids had been around since the late 19th century, but it wasn’t until long after our 31st president, Herbert Hoover left office in 1933 that a president first used a hearing instrument. By then, transistor hearing aids had become common. Hoover used his device to great effect, turning it off when he did not wish to listen to particular speeches.

By the 1980s, digital hearing aids had emerged as a superior technology to the past, but the 1970s recession and other factors had created a decline in the industry. It was at this time that Ronald Reagan became the first president to wear hearing aids while still in office. Reagan had experienced hearing loss since 1939, when a .38-caliber pistol was discharged near his right ear while working as an actor on the set of Code of the Secret Service. This is the equivalent of 150-175 dBA (A-weighted decibels), approximately twice as loud as the safety-recommended 85 dBA.

When the news released that the president had begun wearing hearing aids, the media went wild, using this as further evidence to question the aging man’s fitness for office. Reagan turned it around and became an advocate and spokesperson for hearing loss, declaring May “Better Hearing & Speech Month” in 1986. The industry began an upswing.

Bill Clinton was fit with hearing instruments while in office. His history of noise exposure while playing saxophone in a band, in addition to age-related loss, has been attributed to his need for amplification. Clinton is also an advocate, having worked with the Starkey Hearing Foundation (created by the same company to provide Reagan with his hearing aids), alongside his daughter Chelsea and former President George H.W. Bush.

Gaining Respect for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

No history of presidents and hearing loss would be complete without discussing the impact that presidents have had on the rights of those with hearing loss and other physical challenges. Respect has been a hard-fought right for this group of people, going back centuries. While the first deaf school in the world was established in 1760, it would be another century before the United States would have one of our own.

In 1857, President Franklin Pierce signed a piece of legislation establishing the Columbia Institution, a school for deaf and blind children. President Abraham Lincoln signed the charter allowing the school to grant collegiate degrees in 1864. This college would later come to be known as Gallaudet University, the only college to offer undergraduate and graduate programs in a completely American Sign Language (ASL) environment. The university has had many advocates, including President James A. Garfield, who routinely fought with Congress to keep the school funded and open. His last speech sometime before his assassination was a commencement speech for Gallaudet.

Lyndon B. Johnson was another U.S. President to have an impact on the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing people. In 1964, he signed the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Act. This established the first technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing people seeking STEM careers. NTID, a part of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) campus, has created higher rates of employment among deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

In 1990, disability rights took a leap forward. President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), increasing accessibility for millions of people. Public venues were now required to provide assistive listening options for patrons. He, too, would have hearing loss after leaving office.

The history of presidents and hearing loss shows us that U.S. presidents are just like everyone else. Seeing how they overcome hearing issues can further inspire us to make our own hearing health a priority. Learn more about hearing health by contacting our office. Schedule an appointment today!

Sources:

  • Weisman, Steven R. (1983, September 8). REAGAN BEGINS TO WEAR A HEARING AID IN PUBLIC. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1983/09/08/us/reagan-begins-to-wear-a-hearing-aid-in-public.html
  • History of NTID. Retrieved from https://www.ntid.rit.edu/history
  • silentgrapevine. (2017, October 9). The World’s First Public Deaf School: Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris. Retrieved from https://silentgrapevine.com/2017/10/the-worlds-first-public-deaf-school-institut-national-de-jeunes-sourds-de-paris.html
  • Karl. (2013, August 27). Looking Back 30 Years to 1983: President Reagan Gets Hearing Aids. Retrieved from https://www.hearingreview.com/inside-hearing/industry-news/looking-back-30-years-to-1983-president-reagan-gets-hearing-aids
  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Can Affect Anyone—Including Presidents. Retrieved January 15, 2020 from https://www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov/have-you-heard/noise-induced-hearing-loss-affect-anyone-even-presidents
  • Historical Timeline. Retrieved January 15, 2020 from https://www.gallaudet.edu/about/history-and-traditions/historical-timeline
  • 10 US Presidents with Hearing Loss. (2018, April 17). Retrieved from https://www.gallaudet.edu/about/history-and-traditions/historical-timeline
Hearing Loss & Making Lemonade

Hearing Loss & Making Lemonade

It’s a brand new year, time to think about goals we want to accomplish and how we will succeed with our dreams. As a final part of our “Spreading Good Cheer” series, here are a few inspiring stories about people who didn’t let their hearing loss keep them from achieving their dreams.

Lemons to Lemonade

Some think of hearing loss as a deficiency, but this family has found a way to create something exciting and new (or old, in fact) while giving back to their community:

4-year-old with hearing disorder is CEO of popular lemonade stand

Teens with Dreams

These two stories feature teens who have found ways to make their dreams come true with the help of Oticon’s “Focus on People Awards” which “aim to support ‘exceptional people with hearing loss’” and “change perceptions of what it means to have a hearing loss.”

Marana grad finalist for hearing loss award

Local aspiring chef doesn’t let hearing loss slow him down. Now he’s up for an award

However we choose to accomplish our dreams, it helps to know that something like hearing loss doesn’t have to become a barrier. Of course, the best way to keep hearing loss from slowing us down is to keep our hearing healthy with good nutrition, hearing protection, and regular checks and cleanings. Let RK Audiology help you by scheduling an appointment with us today!

If you missed any of the posts in this series and others, you can always check them out on our blog. Happy New Year!

Respect for the Deaf Community: New Trends in Accessibility

Respect for the Deaf Community: New Trends in Accessibility

Last month, we shared a bit about the Deaf community as part of the “Spreading Good Cheer” series on our blog. In our latest addition, let’s see how better accessibility breakthroughs are showing the Deaf community respect, and what this means for the broader community.

For members of the Deaf community, it comes down to accessibility. While there is debate amongst members of Deaf culture as to whether they consider themselves “disabled,” there is no doubt that accessibility issues have greatly limited deaf and hard-of-hearing people, causing stress and barring the way to rights and opportunities that many of us take for granted.

This is a common complaint within the community, to the point where a trend has emerged: “Designing for Disability.” This posits the idea that what is good for people with disabilities is good for everyone, and highlights issues within the structure of our society.

Accessibility in Travel

For many deaf and hard-of-hearing people, travel can be a nightmare. See how airlines are looking to turn this around in this article:

Airlines Seek to Serve Hearing-Impaired Passengers

Accessibility in Law

Communication issues with law enforcement have often created tense situations. For the deaf and hard-of-hearing, this can be especially worrisome, as basic communication problems have led to misguided arrests and worse. It’s a step in the right direction, then, to see stories like this:

Henderson deputies carry cards to help communication with deaf, hearing-impaired

 

As what it means to have a disability comes to the forefront of our social discussions through shared stories and experiences, we can have a better understanding of how to make a more accessible world for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, as well as others in the community…and that’s a better world for us all.

To learn more about the kinds of accessibility devices RK Audiology has access to, visit our website or schedule an appointment today.

Editorial: Google Gets in the Hearing Technology Game

Editorial: Google Gets in the Hearing Technology Game

As part of the “Spreading Good Cheer” series on our blog, we want to share this great step in accessibility technology for people using hearing devices. Google has teamed up with hearing aid company GN Hearing and Cochlear, and designed new streaming features that allow the user to access music and phone calls directly through their hearing device.

According to Cochlear Chief Technology Officer Jan Janssen:

“The benefit to our users is they will no longer have to use an intermediate device to stream audio from a compatible Android device to their cochlear implant sound processor or hearing aid”

Skipping the middle man here will undoubtedly make accessibility easier for people with hearing devices. You can learn about it in this article by Hearing Tracker.

Hearing Technology at RK Audiology

We pride ourselves on having the latest and most effective technology for hearing evaluation and treatment. Learn more by starting with our 3D Digital Ear Scanner. Then, check out these pages to learn more about hearing-in-noise devices and hearing aids:

We also do custom fittings for a whole host of hearing protection devices: monitors, earplugs for musicians, and more. Schedule a custom fitting with us today!

 

[The views expressed in this editorial are for informational purposes only and are not endorsed by Google. RK Audiology is not affiliated with Google or Google products.]

Hearing Loss During Crises: How ASL Saves Lives

Hearing Loss During Crises: How ASL Saves Lives

When Hurricane Dorian was on the doorstep of the eastern seaboard a couple of months ago, governors took to the airways to warn their constituents of the impending danger. They were not alone, however. In many instances, such as in Florida and Georgia, these warnings were accompanied by an American Sign Language Interpreter. This is common during times of crises and, at times, the interpreter has been known to steal the show.

This is no mere sideshow, however. ASL interpreters, both hearing and deaf, are vital in times of disaster. While technology has advanced to the point where captions can be used on many live broadcasts, sign language may be a deaf or hard-of-hearing person’s first and even only mode of communication. Having an interpreter on hand means that those people have access to the same life-saving information as everyone else.

ASL: The Foundation of a Culture

American Sign Language is a beautiful language, incorporating many elements in its execution, including facial expression, body movement, storytelling, and more. Rather than signing each word (as with Signed Exact English), ASL approaches from a more visual perspective, focusing on the effective presentation of information.

This language is the foundation of a rich culture. To be part of Deaf culture is to be part of a close-knit community, brought together by language and shared experience, and Deaf events are known to be great social gatherings.

Did you know that sign language is not universal? There are different signed languages in different countries and regions, and those cultures influence the formation and execution of those languages. Just as you may not automatically understand Spanish or German, signers of ASL will not automatically be able to understand British Sign Language (BSL) or Lengua de signos española (“Spanish Sign Language” or LSE).

Hearing “Loss”?

Many deaf people do not consider their lack of hearing to be a problem, particularly when they have access to large Deaf communities such as the one here in our very own Austin, TX. They are no different from anyone else; their ears simply do not work. For many deaf people, hearing loss is no “loss” at all.

While this may mean that hearing loss is not a problem for you, it is always a good idea to get your ears checked, as hearing health is often an indicator of overall health. You can schedule an appointment with us today.

ASL is amazing, and a great way to kick off our “Spreading Good Cheer” series, which you can find on our blog. Even if your ears work perfectly, you can always learn sign language for yourself and your community. The benefits will amaze you.

Happy Holidays: Our “Spreading Good Cheer” Series

Happy Holidays: Our “Spreading Good Cheer” Series

The holidays are approaching, promising food, family, and gifts. While this is a season filled with joy, we want to help reduce any stress of the holidays which may take a toll on our mental and physical health – that includes our hearing. RK Audiology is going to keep the good cheer going throughout this season with a new series and some tips on keeping your hearing healthy for the holidays.

Looking Back on the Year

RK Audiology has had another great year! Here in our 8th year, we opened a new main office in West Austin, expanded our team and acquired a South Austin property just south of our original location to provide you with more convenience and serve you better! We also obtained new technology that makes us more effective in treating our clients. As always, it’s been a thrill to share our journey and knowledge with you. Here are just a few highlights from this year’s blog posts:

The “Spreading Good Cheer” Series

As you know by now, hearing and hearing health is our passion. Finding the latest and most inspiring information about how to keep ears healthy…well, that’s just a perk. So, we’re passing it on to you with our “Spreading Good Cheer” series for the holidays. Stay tuned to our blog this season as we share a series of posts on different topics, including new technologies, the Deaf community, and more!

Holiday Reminders for Good Hearing Health

  • ‘Tis the season to indulge in our favorite foods. As you prepare your holiday menu, be sure to add some antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids. Your ears will thank you.
  • The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate — when we do it safely. Whether you’re attending holiday parties, watching the big game, or ringing in the new year with fireworks, there are ways to ensure you get the greatest enjoyment from your holiday experiences.

Find more hearing health tips for the holidays when you check out last year’s holiday post.

As always, ear scans and cleanings keep your ears in tip-top shape. Schedule an appointment with RK Audiology for a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to keep, and give yourself and your loved ones the best gift you can this season: healthy hearing.

Introducing Victoria Villarreal

Introducing Victoria Villarreal

The RK Audiology team is growing again, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to our latest addition: Victoria Villarreal. Victoria comes to us from The University of Texas at Austin, where she is studying for her Audiology Clinical Doctorate (AuD).

Victoria is with RK for her 4th-year internship year. She began in June of this year, and we couldn’t be more pleased with how well she fits into the RK team! Her expertise in ear scans, ear cleanings, and hearing instrument fittings make her a perfect staff member to fit our Lyric hearing aids. She believes in the benefits of the product as much as we do, and has this to say:

“Lyric is a great option for people who want a completely invisible, and natural-sounding device to treat their hearing loss. Lyric lives in your ear canal for a couple of months at a time, which means there is no daily hassle. This approach to treating hearing loss is an option worth considering for anyone looking for help with their hearing.”

Victoria loves dance and going to concerts with her new husband! You can read more about her on her profile page.

To learn how Victoria and RK Audiology can help you decide if Lyric is the right choice for you, check out our Lyric Hearing page and schedule an appointment today!

OtoscanⓇ 3D Digital Ear Scanner: Hearing Care for the Future

OtoscanⓇ 3D Digital Ear Scanner: Hearing Care for the Future

We’re really excited here at RK Audiology, and the reason is clear: the OtoscanⓇ Digital Ear Scanner. If you grew up dreaming of advanced gadgets like the ones in sci-fi movies and television, then you can understand why we couldn’t wait to tell you about this exciting new technology. This ear scanner is ahead of its time and is giving us new insight into the way we take care of you, the client. It’s official: the future is here.

What is a Digital Ear Scanner?

OtoscanⓇ is a 3D digital scanner for the ear. It renders 3D images of the inside and outside of the ear which are then saved for creating a digital earmold. This mold then assists in creating custom “in-ear” hearing aids and other custom earpieces with shorter turnaround time.

How Ear Scans Help Your Hearing

RK has recently acquired a 3D digital scanner and the results are amazing. Aside from greater accuracy in creating molds for hearing devices, the scanner is a much more comfortable experience for our clients than traditional ear molds. We are also able to keep these files on hand for future use to help our clients down the road. That means no need to schedule another visit for new scans.

Furthermore, this 3D ear scan allows our clients an accurate view of their own ear. This helps in explaining the often complicated ways in which the ear works and the best methods of treatment. In other words, we love the way it helps you learn how to care for your ears.

Ear Cleaning and Ear Scans Go Hand-in-Hand

If you have visited our office or read our blog posts, you know that we place high importance on getting your ears cleaned safely. One thing we love about the new scanner is how well it supports this treatment. Having an unobstructed view of your ear is key in diagnosing possible issues early on. When you get an ear cleaning and an ear scan together, you are getting the most effective results. It’s as if the two procedures were made for each other!

In general, we love the new Otoscan 3D Digital Ear Scanner. Ear scans are a big part of the future of hearing healthcare, and we can’t wait for you to experience the benefits!

For more information on getting a quality cleaning and scan, schedule an appointment online with us today!