There I was at the renowned and revered John Tracy Clinic here in Los Angeles, and audiologist Melissa Himmelman was putting an Interacoustics OtoRead probe into my right ear. I hadn’t gone there with the intent of getting tested. Instead I was there just before Christmas at the invitation of Christine Eubanks, the clinic’s audiology director, to observe something of a “day in the life” of the education center and the variety of pediatric hearing evaluations it performs free of charge. And so, while showing me around one of the testing rooms and describing the equipment she used, how it worked, and what it accomplished, Melissa suggested a far more direct approach.
“Why don’t we test you?” she asked, and I said something reticent like “Uh…all right,” and the next thing I knew the probe was in my ear and Melissa was telling me to be quiet and still while she paid attention to the digital readout on the handheld otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening unit. After a few moments came the bombshell. “You failed,” she said matter of factly. Failed? “Yes, failed” she said as if I had a hearing problem, which apparently I now did. Humoring me, she tested that ear again to verify and it registered another fail. Then she moved the probe to the left ear. Same thing.
“So the editor of a hearing magazine is going deaf?” I asked somewhat desperately, and she reassured me that while a failed OAE test could be indicative of hearing loss, it wasn’t definitive, and to prove it she marched me into the testing room’s main chamber, where I sat down in a chair designed for a 3-year-old wondering if the 25 years I’ve spent blasting my ears with everything from the first-generation Sony Walkman to the latest Apple iPod were finally catching up with me. Oufitting me with headphones before disappearing behind one-way glass and a Welch Allyn GSI 61 Clinical Audiometer, Melissa commenced another test…the results of which can be found—along with my account of what else I witnessed during my day at the clinic—linked from the home page of www.hearingproductsreport.com.
In the meantime, I want to point you to the Sound Off section where you’ll find a variety of letters written in response to my editor’s message from last issue in which I described the frank assessment of the magazine given me by Unitron Hearing’s Henrik Nielsen at the Academy of Doctors of Audiology conference in Orlando, Fla, last October. Some letters are more critical than others, but all are appreciated, and a couple suggest ways to better present the products. To that end, I’d like to showcase a change we’ve made in that direction. In the Product Index, you’ll see that each section is now color coded, and with each product that appears on these pages, you’ll find a corresponding button with that color, allowing you to more easily find what you’re looking for.
It may be but a baby step, but it’s in the right direction and the first of others to come.