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Tech: the season to be jolly!

Photo: Technology solutions that may help your family to make sure everyone feels included.

The festive season is a popular time for gatherings with family and friends, but remember this can be challenging for those with a hearing loss. ‘Dinner table syndrome’ is the term used to describe when deaf people feel left out of conversations. Here are some technology solutions that may help your family to make sure everyone feels included.

Winter 2022 Families magazine

Radio aids

This equipment is typically used in schools, but radio aids are versatile pieces of tech that can also be used at home. A radio aid system is made up of a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter picks up the speaker’s voice and sends it wirelessly to the receiver so your child can hear it clearly over background noise. The speaker doesn’t have to be close by. This makes them useful for noisy celebrations.

If your school or local authority doesn’t allow your child to take their radio aid home during the school holidays, they may wish to consider radio aid insurance. We’ve identified a specialist insurance policy that provides cover for accidental damage, loss and theft for any make or model of radio aid for just £125 a year.


Streamers send audio and music from a phone or tablet directly to a user’s hearing device via Bluetooth. Most streamers can also be used as a wireless microphone. However, unlike radio aids, they don’t have in-built software to reduce environmental noises when a speaker’s voice is transmitted to the child’s hearing device. The streamer would also need to be used within a few metres of the hearing device, as they don’t work as effectively across a long distance.


If your child’s hearing device has Bluetooth functionality, you could use a smartphone as a pocket wireless microphone. Live Listen on iPhones turns the phone into a microphone, transmitting speech picked up by the phone directly to the paired Bluetooth hearing device. Similarly, HeardThat is an app available to download on Android and Apple phones to turn the phone into a wireless microphone. Testers have reported a transmission delay while trialling the app, so it may not be as effective as a radio aid or streamer.

Present ideas

We know that technology products feature in many letters to Santa. Below are some possible Christmas present ideas for your deaf child – there’s something for everyone!

The early risers

Young deaf children can find it difficult to know when it’s time to get up in the mornings, especially during the dark winter months. The Groclock Sleep Trainer uses colours and pictures to teach little ones when it’s time to sleep and when it’s reasonable to spring out of bed!

The gamers

Gaming is very popular with many children and young people, but it can be difficult to find suitable headphones that are comfortable to wear with hearing devices. We recommend trying out headphones in stores. Make sure the ear cups are large enough to fit over hearing devices and are not too heavy to slip off.

The travellers

Whether your child enjoys sleepovers or is an avid globetrotter, it’s useful to have an alarm clock to avoid oversleeping or to make sure they catch their flight. The travelTim portable alarm clock is an ideal solution for this. It’s compact and lightweight, with a strong vibration that wakes up heavy sleepers.

The teens

As children become older, they often want to become more independent and have their own space. A flashing doorbell, such as the Honeywell DC917NG, can be placed in their bedroom to alert them to visitors at their bedroom door or to silently inform them when it’s dinner time.

The music lovers

If your child is a fan of music, their favourite tunes can be played through their hearing device using a streamer. Examples of these include the Cochlear Wireless Phone Clip, Oticon ConnectClip and Phonak ComPilot II. Compatibility will depend on the make and model of your child’s hearing device.