Advancements in Audiology for Your Phone
Author: Heather Jensen
Audiologists, like scientists in any other field, are constantly trying to update technologies to keep them modern and relevant. There are a wide selection of such technologies if you know where to look, but we have found that some of the most interesting can be accessed through a device that most people use every day: a mobile phone.
Beltone is one of the companies looking to make their products user-friendly and suitable for the modern age. Specifically, they are embracing mobile apps. Beltone's HearPlus app, available from their website, from iTunes, and from Google Play, allows you to control your Beltone hearing aid, check the batteries, and so on from your phone. You can adjust the volume and other settings without having to remember to carry an extra device around. It is also a discreet way of making adjustments, given how much time most of us spend on our phones every day. As an added bonus, there's a feature that allows you to track your hearing aid with the GPS in your phone, in case you should ever lose it. This GPS can also be used to help you save certain settings for certain locations such as restaurants so that you do not have to manually change your settings every time.
This is Beltone's most popular app, but they have recently released a couple others. For instance, there is a Tinnitus Calmer app that combines customized sound therapy and brain exercises to distract the user's brain from tinnitus. Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears, affects 10 to 15% of the population, and about a quarter of these people have cases severe enough that they need medical attention. As you can imagine, this means there is a big need for relief from this condition.
Other AppsWhile Beltone is one of the biggest names in hearing apps, there are certainly other apps to choose from. Some of them are aimed at preventing hearing damage, such as the Sound Meter from Smart Tools, which allows you to measure the noise level of your environment so that you can adjust your circumstances as needed. A wide selection of hearing test apps exist as well, from organizations like Action on Hearing Loss, England's official hearing foundation.
For those who already have hearing damage, fear not! There are more apps for you, too. If you're new to signing, there are apps to teach you American Sign Language (ASL). Some of the most popular are the ASL app by Sheep Co, which you can find on Google Play, and the Sign Language app by EverydayASL.com, which you can find on iTunes. Then there are apps that can help the hearing impaired with day-to-day matters, like Tap Tap (found in iTunes), which draws your attention to nearby sounds so that you can better interact with your environment. You can adjust the sensitivity to account for different noise levels, and then your phone helps you to hear when you are being called, or when loud noises like crashes and honks happen around you.
About the Author: Heather Jensen is an Audiologist and Clinical Assistant Professor for Utah state University. She received her Doctorate of Audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2004. She has been an adviser for the student academy of audiology organization at USU for 11 years. Before coming to USU, she owned her own private practice, but decided she wanted to give back to the field of audiology by teaching students. When she's not working she spends time with her four children, she also enjoys doing hearing related humanitarian missions.
For more information about getting a bachelor's degree in Communicative Disorders at Utah State University, visit
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“Do you have a social skills class for older kids?” was a question I often heard from parents whose children had just completed Friends Play Group (FPG), a theater-based social skills class for children ages 6 – 9 years.
FPG was developed in 2008 by myself, a drama teacher, and Linda Young, the Principal of K-12 students with special needs in the San Mateo County Office of Education. We partnered with the non-profit San Carlos Children’s Theater, where the program was added to their theater arts class line up.
We found that it was not unusual for children to repeat Friends Play Group until they had “aged-out” at which point parents encouraged us to create a second class where FPG left off. We submitted a grant to Autism Speaks which helped us launch Team Friend, a social skills class for children in the 4th – 6th grades, geared towards helping them prepare for middle school.
Team Friend is taught by three teachers: Tracy Bonaduce, Psychologist/Program Specialist; Debbie Klinger, Speech & Language Pathologist; and myself, theater arts teacher.
In the fall of 2015, we will be teaching our fourth session of Team Friend. With a maximum of 10 students, each child has ample opportunity to participate in skits, improv scenes and scripted scenes based on the social skills lesson of the day. We cover issues such as communication and conversation skills, friendship making skills, problem solving, perspective taking, how to join a group, dealing with a bully and interacting with adults and teachers.
Technology is a key facet of Team Friend. Using ipads, the children take turns in the role of ‘Director’ filming and directing the scenes acted out by the students. The footage from the entire session is compiled into a single movie and burned onto DVD’s. During the final class of Team Friend, parents are invited to watch the movie which gives an overview of what the children learned. Each child receives a take home DVD which not only provides parents a clear picture of their child’s experiences but also serves to reinforce strategies taught during the class.
And of course with any drama class, fun and games are a key component of Team Friend. Each class always begins and ends with a theater game using imagination, body movement, eye contact and one-on-one interaction. Games such as Mirror, Mirror, Zip Zap Zop, Who Here?, Artists and Statues, and Pass the Clap are favorites. As the session progresses, the children become more proficient in the games challenging themselves on speed and accuracy which always ends in laughter and team spirit.
Team Friend is taught at Central Middle School in San Carlos on Tuesday afternoons from
4:30 – 5:30 pm. The fall session begins Tuesday, September 22 and continues through November 3.
After her son completed a session of Team Friend, one mother told us, “There is nothing like this class that I’ve ever seen. It is so unique! Parents need to know it is available.” She promptly signed up her son to a second session of Team Friend!
For more information on how to register for Team Friend visit: http://www.sancarloschildrenstheater.com/classes/
For information about Team Friend visit: http://www.friendsplaygroup.org/#!team-friend/ckml
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Parents who sign up their child for Team Friend are encouraged to fill out a Parent Questionnaire at this link: http://www.friendsplaygroup.org/#!parent-questionnaire/c1bw3
To contact Shelley Frost, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650-906-8296
Canadian SLP is a great resource designed for individuals that are pursuing their Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. Here you'll find information about various programs across Canada, a community of fellow applicants and tips for your undergraduate preparation.
Below is a sneak peak of some of the topics that have been covered thus far on Canadian SLP's website:
1. 6 Steps to Writing the GRE
2. SLP Education Outside of Canada
3. I Wasn’t Accepted to Graduate School
4. 5 Tips When Asking SLPs to Write a Clinical Reference Letter
Universities: On the Canadian SLP website there is a list of universities in Canada and corresponding information (i.e. admission requirements, location) related to each university.
Student Spotlight is one of my favorite sections on the website. This section covers students that have been accepted to a Masters program in Canada. It features the student along with corresponding questions related to the student's background and the process when they were applying to Masters programs. If you have recently been accepted to a Canadian SLP Program or are a current student that would like to be featured, you can contact Danielle to possibly be featured.
Forum: This section includes various discussions with students that are planning on applying for graduate school programs or are already in a program.
About Danielle: Danielle is a student from Canada, creating resources to help fellow students and provide tips for undergraduate preparation. Contact Danielle on Twitter, Facebook or email her at Canadianslpeducation@gmail.com.
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