Microcomputer applications for hearing aid selection and fitting.


The purpose of this manuscript is to provide the reader with a knowledge of which computer programs are available to the clinician for facilitating the selection and verification of hearing aids. The objective is to provide a general conceptual understanding of the theoretical basis behind each program, what features the program has to offer, and to share an appreciation for the "look and feel" of the programs. Since microcomputers can be used in so many areas related to hearing aids, perhaps it would be useful to describe what will not be covered. Several topics are beyond the scope of this text, such as: a review of software designed by hearing instrument manufacturers to fit their own programmable hearing aids, software that is related to instrumentation involving probe microphone devices, or software for business management. The Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Software Association's (HIMSA) product, NOAH, will not be reviewed, but interested readers can find out more about NOAH and related applications by seeing Robertson (1996). NOAH is software designed to integrate hardware and software modules covering a wide range of applications from a variety of manufactures. One prominent application involves programmable hearing aids which use a microcomputer to control a hardware interface device for setting the parameters of the instrument. This is certainly an important use for microcomputers; however, most hearing aids sold are not programmable. Here, a more generic approach will be taken. The emphasis is on selecting appropriate electroacoustic characteristics for hearing aids whether they are linear, nonlinear, programmable or not. Also, this paper is intended to be non-judgmental and informative, not a critical review or evaluation of program features. Indeed, one program to be described was developed by the author who can hardly be considered impartial. A traditional literature search (i.e., Medline) was not particularly useful in identifying software associated with hearing aid fitting. Even when fairly recent articles were found, often it was doubtful whether the program was still commercially available for the platform for which it was designed (e.g., Apple Ile). Three or four years is a long time in the computer business. Identifying what software is "out there" and currently available, supported, and would run on a major platform (Macintosh or IBM PC compatibles, Mac or PC) was the goal, but it was also a hit or miss proposition. So, apologies are offered in advance for the author's ignorance in inadvertantly omitting someone's favorite program or creation. Also, since this is not intended to be a treatise on the scientific aspects of hearing aid fitting, material will be presented in a less formal tone. The main portion of the text will begin with a general review which, hopefully, will point out the current need for including computer-based schemes into the selection and verification process, and which issues need to be addressed in hearing aid selection. The underlying purpose of much of the software is to take the theory from basic research and to apply those concepts to the fitting of hearing aids. For the reader who would like more details than this general overview provides, please see Studebaker and Hochberg (1980; 1993) and Valente (1994). A brief summary will be included of what computer hardware would be needed to support the software. It is assumed that the reader is somewhat familiar with basic computer terminology and concepts. Developing a working un-

DOI: 10.1177/108471389600100302

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@article{Jonge1996MicrocomputerAF, title={Microcomputer applications for hearing aid selection and fitting.}, author={Robert T de Jonge}, journal={Trends in amplification}, year={1996}, volume={1 3}, pages={86-114} }