Gamer Headset for Father Who is Hearing Impaired
May 30, 2016 1:54 AM   Subscribe

My father has severe hearing loss (I'm pretty sure he hasn't heard my voice in the last 10 years). What we would really like is a headset that could plug into either his computer or his iPhone (preferably both) and allow him to both hear and talk with a mic. Basic criteria are: over the ear and mic. My brother is very into the gaming community and has his eyes on a headset but I hope someone here has more insight on what helps with hearing impaired.

To give more info on his hearing impairment: no hearing aids and it's a non-starter, don't waste your breath. He turns up his stereo and tv to wake the devil type levels. Of most concern, to use the phone he puts it on speaker and then shouts at it. *this is not a senile old man thing it is a hearing issue* I already know what the best gaming headset is but honestly if anyone has any insight into hearing loss I would so much appreciate it.
posted by boobjob to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What type of hearing loss is it? Conductive? Senso-neural? Is it both sides? One? Mileage varies very *greatly*.

Depending on what sort he has, he may want to adjust the sound settings on his devices so he gets more gain from bass sounds. The vibration makes bass seem louder, and lower frequencies are far easier to amplify than higher frequencies.

Maybe change it to monostereo if he's relying on one ear. Some applications offer visual prompts to go with sound notifications, so it makes it easier to figure out what sound means what.

(me: profoundly deaf, sensorineural hearing loss on both sides, using a cochlear implant)
posted by lineofsight at 4:29 AM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is he adverse to just hearing aids, or any kind of professional intervention? It may be helpful to have his hearing tested so you can have an of what to work with. Like lineofsight mentioned, there are potentially some ways to tweak things that will get you some extra milage. They'll also be able to help set realistic expectations (sometimes people with hearing loss will have poor speech recognition even when the talker's voice is loud enough to hear).

If he's amenable to getting checked out, look for a place that promotes Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) on their website and promotional literature. ALDs may fit what you're looking for (remote mics, amplified phones, "TV ears" etc). At the very least, in my experience, people who work a lot with ALDs tend to also have a better idea of how to get the most out of standard consumer gear compared to a place that focuses on fitting hearing aids. If your father is in a large enough urban area, you may be able to find a large center that has a lot of ALDs to try out. Some smaller places can still do well with ALDs, but they may be less likely to gave them on hand. A university with an audiology program may also be a good way to go.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:55 AM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

So the hearing aid issue: he has had his hearing well tested, I do not know the name of his hearing loss. He paid outright for top of the line hearing aids between 10 and 20k. He is a veterinarian so he needs to use a stethoscope all day long 3 days a week. He hated the hearing aids and taking them out for work was just weird so, no, no to hearing aids. But like I said he is not doctor adverse, if anything it's the opposite. He's obsessed with longevity so he works out, gets a yearly colonoscopy, has his brain scans.
posted by boobjob at 10:55 AM on May 30, 2016

That makes things a bit easier then. If he liked where he got his hearing aids, see if they can make an appointment to go over ALDs that would work for his hearing loss. They can also discuss how he can adjust sound on the phone/radio to give him the best access to sound for his current hearing profile. If they're just a hearing aid place, look around for larger centers or university programs.

Part of why I think going through a clinic is helpful is that they can help with some big picture recommendations about meeting his listening goals and discuss good communication strategies for family members (many places are happy to have family members in the appointment). If you have a better grasp on his hearing loss, you may be able to figure what products would be worth trying. They'll also talk about nuances that some people don't think of: like making sure the microphone is near the person speaking, where to sit when you're out for dinner, turning up the treble vs bass depending on loss, etc. Ideally they've discussed some of this with him already, but management strategies are even more important if he's not getting good sound access.

Side note in case in case the stethoscope was the main impediment to hearing aid use (you'll obviously have a better idea about this than I): I had a physician as a patient once who also had to use a stethoscope all day. He tried and loved Phonak Lyric hearing aids: it requires the right anatomy and the right hearing loss, so it may not be an option for your father, but he can get checked out for them. They're hearing aids that are worn 24\7 and are changed out by the audiologist (you pay an annual subscription that covers your costs for the year). My patient had the right kind of ear canals, so he was able to use his stethoscope with the hearing aids still in. Because they're worn 24-7, I even had people who hated things in their ears get used to them, usually in about 1-2 weeks. They're definitely not for everyone, but it may be worth looking into (most places will have a 30 day trial, which would give him enough time to see if they physically and acoustically work for him).
posted by ghost phoneme at 1:03 PM on May 30, 2016

Thank you for your response Ghost Phoneme, I totally agree that hearing clinics can be a great help to friends and family when dealing with hearing loss. I may have been a little short in my initial question. Out of my family, my voice was the first to go so about 15 years ago my behavior changed (with advice from hearing specialists). I always sit opposite of him in restaurants and speak directly at him, no looking down at a phone or talking while moving, no calling out to him, I always go up close to make sure he knows I'm there. It sounds like I'm whining when I write it out like that but those tips helped me interact with him so much better. If I hadn't been told what to do I would have continued thinking that he was just ignoring me on purpose as a slight.

When he was evaluated the specialists said that his hearing loss was extremely atypical in that most people lose bass or treble and come to a medium (you would know better than I, this is third hand explanation) whereas his losses were all over the place and strange. He has had second and third opinions with the same result (like I said he's not Doctor adverse). I'm not really concerned (nor is he) with his hearing in person, he's so personable that anyone will gladly repeat what he missed or clarify. The real issue is phone calls. They are distressing to both him and everyone on the phone and witnessing the phone call.
posted by boobjob at 1:43 PM on May 30, 2016

It definitely doesn't sound like you're whining! It is a lot of work for both communication partners when there's hearing loss. Over the phone is the hardest (as you guys already know). Basically something that would cause minor problems for someone with good hearing is much harder for someone with loss, and the phone magnifies that further due to the lack of visual cues (you may already know this).

My information is a bit dated (I'm in research now) and I don't know his specific loss, but I have a couple thoughts. Does he just use a cellphone, or does he have a landline too? He may qualify for a captioned telephone (I think those are just available on landlines). For an over the ear headset for his cell, if you're going with a gamer one (which I don't really know how loud or how much sound quality adjustment you can get, so hopefully someone else can help with specifics), I'd look for one that cups the ears to block out as much surrounding ambient sound as possible. Usually two is better than one, so you'll probably want binaural.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:55 PM on May 30, 2016

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