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Songbird Disposable Hearing Aid -
New Hope For The Mild To Moderate Hearing Impaired Person

by Hazel Inglis
HearingCenterOnline.com Staff Writer

I'm sure all of us remember a time when we were too "cool" to be seen with a certain person, or too "hip" to dress a certain way. Admit it. Some days vanity still wins out. Remember last week, when you ran through the house in a 50 mile per hour frenzy trying to get the house spotless to impress that client/date/mother-in-law. You get the picture. These human "flaws" transgress to many walks of life, including our health.

In fact, the "stigma of the hearing aid", often influenced by our vanity, is one of the biggest contributing factors affecting the hearing aid market of today. "The level of market penetration is extremely low and, over the last 15 years, has continually dropped despite significant advancements in technology and cosmetic appearance of today's hearing aids."* Huh? Translation: Over the last 15 years the number of people with a hearing impairment has increased, yet the number of new people purchasing hearing aids has not. In fact, out of 28 million Americans with a hearing loss, only 5.5 million own hearing aids. Of those, almost one million don't wear them.

Why is that? Well, let's go back to the "stigma of the hearing aid." Hearing Aids have not reached the same acceptance that eyeglasses have today. Unlike glasses, people do not wear hearing aids to make themselves look sophisticated and intelligent. Instead, some of us are still haunted by old misconceptions. Despite the leaps and bounds we have made in hearing aid technology we still perceive them as bulky, hideous, awkward, expensive devices. We associate hearing aids and hearing loss with the elderly, while in fact almost 70 percent of people with a hearing loss are under the age of 65.

To be fair, the problem does not solely lie with the consumer. Admirably, in response to people's concerns about the size and appearance of some hearing aids, manufacturers have developed smaller, more advanced, digital hearing aids. Unfortunately these are also more expensive. Remember, choosing the right hearing aid is a very individualized decision, best made with the help of your audiologist. The right hearing aid for you, is not necessarily the best choice for someone else and vice versa. The average hearing aid lasts three to five years, so choosing a more costly hearing aid, which you'll be happy with, could be a good investment. On the other hand, for someone new to the hearing aid market, purchasing a more expensive, smaller unit may be met with some reservation.

If you are one of those people--don't despair. Thanks to Songbird Medical Inc., a privately held company from New Jersey (Cranbury), there is new hope on the horizon for those who would not previously consider wearing a hearing aid. Targeting the 45-to-65-year-old age group, Songbird has developed a new innovative disposable hearing aid for the mild-to-moderate hearing impaired. The unit has been created to address the market's concerns of cost, ease of access, sound quality, comfort, and appearance.

For $39 (USD), the "Songbird" can be obtained through your licensed hearing professional. The unit is available in nine different acoustical prescriptions which Songbird Medical Inc., says "will satisfy 95 percent of people with mild to moderate hearing loss." The one-size shell and tip has been designed to fit the majority of adult ear canals (left or right ear), allowing the hearing aid dispenser to fit the patient in just one visit from his in stock inventory. According to Songbird Medical Inc., the combination of the one-size unit and choice of nine prescriptions were successfully fitted in 85% of adults evaluated in a recent clinical study. This combination will mean the consumer should not have to sit through an uncomfortable ear impression or make repeat visits to the clinic for adjustments or remakes.

Operating 12 hours per day, the unit will last 40 days before needing to be replaced. Being disposable negates the need for a battery door, which frees up space for a larger microphone. In fact, the Songbird microphone, the "Mega-Mike," is seven times larger than microphones in conventional hearing aids. The Mega-Mike microphone provides the wearer with excellent sound quality and low noise interference.

Finally, because the unit does not need to be built for endurance, Songbird creators were able to make the "ComforSeal Tip" out of extra-soft materials. The tip fits past the second bend in the ear canal, creating an "active seal." This seal "limits occlusion**, eliminates the need for venting, boosts high frequency sounds, controls feedback and enhances retention (i.e. helps keep the hearing aids from falling out), even when talking or chewing."

The Songbird Disposable hearing aid was made available in select areas of the United States in March 2000. Songbird Medical Inc. expects their new hearing aid to be available across the US and Canada by the end of this year. So stayed tuned for the Songbird Disposable hearing aid ... making it's way to a clinic near you!

*SONGBIRD Disposable Hearing Aid Web Site: 

*For your FREE viewing
here are some RealAudio and RealVideo clips

** Don't know what occlusion is? Don't worry, most people don't. Try this ... stick your fingers in your ears. Now read this paragraph out loud. Do you notice the effect that your fingers in your ears have on the sound of you talking? That effect on the sound is called occlusion.

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