I have been using a SeboTek Voice-Q 720 hearing aid for ten days. The experience is as close as I am likely to get to the miraculous.
I have been legally blind all my life, but had excellent hearing until about ten years ago. While my vision complicated my education, I was able to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees and spent my professional life in university teaching. I retired in 2000 as a professor of sociology and head of a Department of Sociology and Social Work at a regional state university. From 1992 to 2000 I also served as the university’s consultant on assistive technology. I provided information on the availability, costs and appropriateness of technology designed to assist people with disabilities involving vision, hearing, motor skills and cognitive deficits such as learning disabilities.
In 1995, I was diagnosed as having a hearing loss severe enough to merit the prescription of in the ear hearing aids. In 1999 I received a second pair of in the ear aids which were slightly more powerful. In 2001, I experienced two episodes of significant blockages of my inner ears. In each of these two instances, I experienced an increased hearing loss. Neither local specialists nor the Mayo Clinic was able to determine the cause of the episodes. An audiologist fitted me with behind the ear digital hearing aids. These aids enabled me to hear, but my comprehension was severely limited. I could no longer use a conventional phone, and even with specialized amplified phones I could only understand some people some of the time. I also had trouble with voices. While I could understand my wife if she was facing me, I could not understand my daughter, son-in-law or my grandchildren. My wife had to repeat anything that was said. I could understand some other people, but these were mostly men with low voices.
Several weeks ago, my audiologist told me about Sebotek digital hearing aids. Because of the severity of my hearing loss, she was not very optimistic about whether these devices could help me, but she arranged for a trial. I tried the Voice-Q 720 aids in both ears for a week. In evaluating the aids, I drew upon my experience with scientific method and in evaluating products for people with disabilities. I quickly determined that the hearing loss in my left ear was too severe to be significantly helped by the Sebotek aid. My right ear was a very different story. From the minute the audiologist inserted this aid in my right ear, I heard things I have not heard in years. I spent the next week, trying the hearing aid in as many environments as I could. I would alternate the Sebotek digital aid with my existing top of the line digital aid. I made it a point to randomly determine which aid I used first. I also tried to keep the time intervals as equal as I could for each device.
After a period lasting between two and three days, I stopped using my existing hearing aid and concentrated on the Sebotek. The difference in my hearing and comprehension was so great that additional comparison was pointless. During the rest of the trial, I concentrated on trying to find difficult conditions under which to try the Sebotek aid. I learned a number of things:
My experience with the SeboTek Voice-Q 720 may be somewhat unique. As a legally blind person, in my case, someone who cannot read conventional print or drive, I have depended on my hearing to compensate for things that that are lacking from my limited vision. For this reason, my hearing loss has been deeply troubling to me. The Sebotek has given me back sensory abilities that I thought were gone forever. The net result is that I am satisfied on all grounds. My only disappointment is that Sebotek does not currently make a hearing aid that is powerful enough to help the hearing in my left ear.
If they ever do, I will be struggling to be at the head of the line to be a user.