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Summer Is the Perfect Time to Service Hearing Technology

4 min read

A Clarke audiologist discusses hearing technology with a family at the Clarke Hearing Center in Northampton, MA. (Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic)

A Clarke audiologist discusses hearing technology with a family at the Clarke Hearing Center in Northampton, MA. (Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic)

Your children may be looking forward to the school year being over, but there’s one more task to take care of during the summer season—have their audiological equipment serviced before they head back to school in the fall.

Why the Summer?

Audiologists recommend that a child’s Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT)—such as a classroom remote microphone system or a personal system used outside of school—be examined during the summer for three main reasons:

  1. A year’s worth of use in the classroom (or, this year, the home classroom) creates wear and tear that may not be obvious. The devices “can appear to function appropriately, however, debris can often get inside of equipment,” says Rebecca Huzzy, AuD, CCC-A, an educational audiologist at Clarke. If that debris builds up or moves, it can damage the equipment—possibly permanently. “It’s better to have a professional assess and clean the equipment if it’s not going to be used for a couple of months,” Rebecca adds.

    She notes that if a device is damaged but still functional, children may not think to report it to their family or teacher. “Summer servicing gives us an opportunity to assess the condition of each piece of equipment. We can assess the integrity of the system and have some idea of when equipment needs to be replaced rather than just repaired,” she says. 

  2. Students typically aren’t using the equipment as much during the summer months. “This helps to ensure that the equipment is in working order for the next school year and that it is stored appropriately when it is not in use,” Rebecca says. “If we wait until the equipment breaks, then the student may have to be without equipment that they rely upon for a couple of weeks.

  3.  Summer, especially in some areas of the country, also brings with it humidity and increased perspiration. Exposure to either can damage the internal components of personal hearing devices or their related HATs. “It’s a good idea to see an audiologist to have your devices cleaned, including being put in a drying chamber at the clinic, especially if your device sounds weak or dull,” says Christine Kelley, AuD, audiologist at the Clarke Hearing Center in Northampton, MA.

Who Is Responsible for Servicing?

With so many students learning remotely this year, there may be some confusion as to who is responsible for getting the equipment serviced. Especially if HATs typically used at school have been brought home temporarily.

When schools are responsible for providing student equipment, they also need to maintain it. “Generally, the institution or person who owns the equipment is responsible for its maintenance,” says Rebecca. “If school-owned equipment breaks, the school contact should be notified to have it repaired. If the equipment is owned by the student’s family, then they should contact their hearing healthcare provider.”  

Maintaining Personal Equipment at Home Between Servicing

A fully functional HAT isn’t helpful if it’s paired to a hearing aid or cochlear implant that’s compromised. A student’s hearing devices should also be checked for the same kinds of wear and tear as their HAT systems. Teens and the families of younger children can use the remotes and guides that come with some hearing aids and cochlear implants to check for and troubleshoot many issues.

In addition to the regular cleaning and maintenance schedule with your child’s audiology provider, there are steps you can take to prolong the performance of hearing aids, bone conduction processors or cochlear implant processors.

“Try using a hearing aid dehumidifier or an electric dryer at home,” recommends Christine. “They prolong the lifespan of devices and help combat moisture issues. There are several different kinds of dehumidifiers, including basic ones, which use a disposable desiccant [moisture absorber], and others that have the ability to be reactivated.” Another option is electric dryers that use a desiccant and forced hot air/heat to help dry out a device. Some also come with a UV light to destroy bacteria or viral traces.  

Christine says it’s also important to wipe down hearing aids and cochlear/bone conduction implant processors with a cloth or tissue before putting them away at night, especially after heavy perspiration or moisture exposure.  

Speak with your audiologist about what care and maintenance methods are best for your specific amplification devices and lifestyle. If your child isn’t due for an appointment, but it’s been a while since their assistive devices were professionally serviced, consider making an appointment during the summer. When you know all elements of your child’s hearing technology have been checked, cleaned and repaired, you can feel confident they will have the best possible access to sound for learning next fall.

To read more about how Clarke teachers of the deaf are preparing for the fall, read “Looking Ahead to Fall” on Clarke’s Hear Me Out blog.

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