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Thursday, 24 March 2016 18:31

My Enabling "Accessibility Kit"

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I was recently asked to trial the new ReSound Multi Mic.  It is a tiny piece of kit with bluetooth connectivity to my Linx2 hearing aids, iPhone and applewatch so absolutely perfect accessibility for me.

Multi Mic can be used by being attached to one person, by being placed on a table enabling brilliant accessibility to small group conversation.  It can also be used as a microphone up to 25 metres.

I collected the Multi Mic from the guys at ReSound on my way to an event.  As usual I was given time and a full explanation as to how it works then had my hearing aids paired to the equipment and told it had been fully charged so ready to go.

On this occasion my Mum had her chauffeur hat on and was driving me to Manchester so I asked her to wear the Multi Mic, switched on I attached it to her scarf, we spoke about the new piece of equipment, I liked the clear speech coming directly to my ears.

We switched on the music and pretty much forgot about the Multi Mic however, each time my Mum spoke this time we didn't have to reduce the volume as I could hear very clearly, was brilliant.

The car can be very difficult for the hearing aid wearer, I struggle to lipread at the best of times with my blindness, however, in a car it is virtually impossible, conversation is very difficult.  The Multi Mic is excellent in this environment, if all involved in the same conversation.

A quick recharge on reaching our destination and then a formal dinner.  

I have to admit I was dreading dinner for several reasons.  Firstly I was up north and I can struggle with accents, secondly I was attending the dinner with just Unis at my side and I was in unfamiliar surroundings.

I'm a sociable person so on getting directions to the 3rd floor restaurant Unis and I set off.

It was my intention to make full use of the Multi Mic at dinner, however there was a bit of a problem!

The dinner was delicious, however the actual restaurant was a complete nightmare for me.

It was very dark, I'm completely blind in the dark and the acoustics were terrible, that said everybody struggled.

Poor Unis got accidentally trodden on several times, even though tucked away as best as possible, thankfully she wasn’t hurt but I did feel bad for her.

I thought the Multi Mic would be great here and it was but TOO great!

The reason for this was we had long tables of eight (I'm told) and because of that layout there were several small conversations going on and I could hear ALL of them at the SAME time, this made it considerably hard to concentrate and zoom into one conversation. If the dining tables had been round and we were all involved in the same conversation it would have been perfect for me to follow with ease.

I often wonder why there are so few places to eat with round tables, they really are so much more accessible for all and so much more sociable.

I switched off the Multi Mic and switched program on my hearing aids to reduce the background noise, sound not as clear as Multi Mic but manageable.

After what was for me quite an exhausting night listening in a dark and noisy room I was pleased to reach my bed.

Quick charge over night and back Multi Mic in my bag for my main event which was later in the day.

I used the Multi Mic over lunch and in the coffee shop where I prepared for my keynote, it was brilliant. Both the restaurant and coffee shop were very busy and there was music playing so lots of different noises coming from everywhere.

My Mum wore the Muti Mic on her scarf and I could hear her voice very clearly through all the noise.

I was able to concentrate on my work and converse on a one to one without any difficulty, brilliant.

What is also noticeable with this product is it's sensitivity to the surroundings for example, when attached to Mum's scarf the microphone on top delivered a straight singular signal, zooming in on her voice alone, however, when the mic is placed on a table of people all conversing in the same conversation  (ie, a meeting) the microphone delivers a surround of sound picking up all directions of sound, allowing all people at the table to participate in that one conversation and its delivered directly to my ears.

I can see this useful piece of accessible assistive equipment being useful for:

Teaching environments,

Formal and informal meetings, 



Various social settings - coffee shops, restaurants, 

Hospital / doctors appointments (especially when meeting new people with accents)

Car journeys,

Dark situations - walking in the dark with a guide. 

These are all situations I have struggled with in the past and more so since being registered deafblind.  

My Linx2 with four programs are amazing and give flexibility in the varying environments however, the Multi Mic allows even more. 

All of the ReSound products that I use allow me direct connectivity meaning fantastic sound clarity, again very enabling to the hearing aid user.  

Mishearing is something I lived with up until I was fitted with ReSound Linx2 in May 2015, besides often being embarrassing mishearing can be very dangerous.  I often had difficulty at the doctors or hospital so felt the need to be accompanied for assistance in hearing what has often been quite complicated information about my condition.

In future I would feel more comfortable attending meetings and appointments with the Multi Mic in my pocket.

My “Accessibility Kit” is growing along with my ability to live my life, I just hope my work helps others with Usher Syndrome access this enabling technology.

A second blog on my growing "Accessibility Kit" coming soon.


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