Worn in or behind the ear, a hearing aid is a small electronic device that amplifies sound. Individuals with a hearing loss wear a hearing aid in order to hear sounds better, in turn making speech clearer and thus improving communication ability.
Comprising of 4 parts, a basic hearing aid consists of a microphone, computer processing chip, amplifier and speaker. The microphone receives sound and converts the sound waves into electrical signals which are then sent to the amplifier. The amplifier amplifies these signals and transmits them through the speaker and into the ear.
Hearing aids from different manufacturers process sound in different ways. Each manufacturer has a ‘secret recipe’ in the form of an algorithm. Algorithms are important as they result in ensuring maximum speech intelligibility and sound audibility. This also means that hearing aids in the modern age are far more complex than just being amplifiers.
Hearing aids come in a variety of different styles. These include varying sizes, power – the degree to which sound is amplified, and the placement in or outside the ear.