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Kathy Mellott, AuD
Maryland's Hands-Free Law
Audiology Unlimited
. http://www.audiologyunlimited.net/

Maryland's Hands-Free Law

On October 1, 2010, Maryland enacted a hands-free law for drivers using cell phones.For most people, this law requires a speaker phone or a Bluetooth headset or earpiece to talk on the phone while driving.For hearing aid users this brought a different set of problems.How can one use a Bluetooth headset and a hearing aid at the same time?Fortunately, the hearing aid manufacturers have a solution.

Many hearing aid manufacturers are now making Bluetooth enabled hearing aids.This allows the user to use a cell phone, but also to listen to television, music through mp3 players and the audio from a Bluetooth enable computer without taking a hearing aid out of the ear.There is even an adaptor for using Bluetooth with a landline telephone.

What is Bluetooth?Bluetooth is a wireless connection between electronic devices.It sends a faster signal than FM or infrared, and the streaming devices are less expensive.”The big draws of Bluetooth are that it is wireless, inexpensive and automatic”, according to an article by Curt Franklin and Julia Layton.Many of the hearing aid manufacturers, including Phonak, Oticon and Unitron, have hearing aids that connect with devices through a streamer.GN Resound has just come out with hearing aids that do not need an intermediary streamer to connect with Bluetooth devices.And, Siemens Hearing Instruments boasts that they make the only in-the-ear Bluetooth enabled hearing aids.

Not all hearing aids are good for all people.It depends on the type and degree of hearing loss.It is recommended that people in their 50's or older have their hearing tested by an audiologist to determine is there is a need for amplification.If so, there are many options on today's market to appropriately help the hearing loss and keep connections with other electronics enabled.An audiologist can help you make the decisions that will benefit your hearing aid and the accessories that will help make life easier through wireless connectivity.

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