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Summer Servicing for FM Systems

Summer servicing of FM systems (sometimes called Remote
Microphone Hearing Assistance Technology or Remote Mic. HAT.) is an important
component of the management of amplification. Over time, year, cords can deteriorate
and fray, batteries weaken, pieces chip and bend, and connections between
audioshoes and boots can become loose from wear. Even if equipment is working
fine now, proactively servicing the FM system can prevent the student from
having to go without it at the start of a new school year if something should
break then. Summer is the perfect time for an overhaul since students typically
do not use their FM systems during the summer. Even when students do require FM
for summer school or related activities, it is still critical that all
equipment is inspected by a managing audiologist before the start of the new
school year.

Ensure Delivery to the Audiologist

with your team to decide how the FM system will get to the audiologist for
summer servicing. Some students have an educational audiologist on their team
and that person is responsible for picking up equipment at the end of the year.
Sometimes this job falls to the special education liaison, and sometimes I pick
up and deliver the equipment myself. Most importantly, I do not assume someone
else will handle the delivery I want to know for sure who will be held
responsible for each of my students! Some schools require me to sign a
responsibility form when picking up and delivering FM system for summer
servicing, so be sure to check with your contact at each school so that you
understand the expectations. Additionally, some audiological contracts include
summer servicing; for others, this is an additional cost. Be sure to
communicate with your team and your student’s managing audiologist so no
surprise bills arrive at the school.

Comprehensive summer servicing should

Replacement of rechargeable batteries

Replacement of any frayed cords

Repair or replacement of any pieces with loose
or worn connections

Cleaning of all of the components

Full testing of the FM system to ensure all
components work properly together

*An appointment for your student for FM
verification (transparency) and functional listening test with and without
their equipment should occur before the start of the new school year

I’ve starred the last item because FM verification is an
aspect of equipment management that I find is too often overlooked by school
systems and their contracted audiologists. Just
as it is important to have an audiologist verify and program the FM and fit to
each child when it is ordered, it is an essential step in annual service.While some audiologists verify
the equipment according to the American Academy of Audiology pediatricguidelines as part of their protocol, many skip this
step, simply taking the pieces from the box and putting them on the student. When
this happens, the student may not be getting optimal auditory input through the
FM system and their specific hearing aid and/or cochlear implant settings. This
means that the FM signal may be too soft preventing optimal access, or too loud
which decrease their access to their peers.  In either case, when the FM is not
transparent, the student may reject the equipment as it either does not seem
beneficial or negatively impacts their ability to hear and learn from other
students in the classroom. I remember seeing a student for the first time a few
years ago at the start of the school year. Her teachers reported that she used
her FM consistently and never reported any trouble with it. While meeting with
the student, I asked her how she felt about her FM. She commented that it was fine
but didn’t really know what it did for her or why she had to use it. When I
listened through her hearing aid, the signal from the FM was so soft I could
barely hear it! No wonder she didn’t see the benefit! After speaking with her
audiologist and getting her parent involved, the FM system was verified, the
volume of the FM was increased appropriately, and the student then had access
through her FM.

If you are unsure if your student’s FM system has been
verified, speak with the managing audiologist and ensure that this is part of
the students’ management plan. As verification often requires the student to go
to the audiologist for an appointment (unless the audiologist has portable
verification equipment), work with families to set that appointment now before
it gets forgotten in the hustle of the fall and the start of a new school year.
 With some advanced planning, students,
families and schools will not have to worry about the functioning of
amplification next fall J

Hear Me Out

The Hear Me Out blog provides unique resources for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's a forum for itinerant teachers of the deaf to share their experiences as they grow as professionals! It is produced by Clarke's Mainstream Services team as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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About the Hear Me Out Blog

Itinerant teachers of the deaf (TOD) provide direct services to children with hearing loss in mainstream schools, consultation to their teachers, and professional development to school staff. Itinerant TODs travel to a child’s neighborhood school to provide one-on-one educational support, foster listening and spoken language development, and help children build social and self-advocacy skills. They also act as a liaison between the family and their mainstream school. Hear Me Out provides a unique forum for these special teachers to share their experiences as they grow as professionals.

Hear Me Out is produced by Mainstream Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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Hear Me Out Blog

About the Author

Heather Stinson (CAGS, MED, S/LP-A) received her master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College in 2006 and a graduate certificate in Children, Families, and Schools (with a concentration in research methodology) from the University of Massachusetts in 2012. In addition to her many years of experience working with children with hearing loss who communicate using listening and spoken language, Heather has also worked as a preschool classroom teacher.

Heather has presented both locally and nationally on issues related to mainstreaming students with hearing loss and is a contributing author to Odyssey magazine. Heather currently works as an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing at Clarke Mainstream Services, a program of Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.

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