Mini mic to the rescuePublished Date: 23 Nov 2023
Driving down the motorway, a little voice drifts from the back seat. “Are we there yet? How many minutes? That’s long…!” Five years into parenthood and a lot of stories and songs later… we’ve discovered the luxury of occasionally handing a tablet over for a bit of peace on long haul journeys!
Heading back from Wales over the summer, Isabelle said she was struggling to hear her film which was particularly quiet. We needed a solution.
Upon returning home we decided to dig into the vast backpack of accessories from Cochlear that we were handed on activation day. Within it was the device we had in mind to help solve the tablet issue – the mini mic. This is a small microphone that can be worn on your body or connected to an audio source. It connects to Isabelle’s cochlear implants via Bluetooth, so the sound goes directly to her ‘ears’ – a little bit like wearing headphones.
We’d yet to explore using it until now as our Teacher of the Deaf has always emphasised the importance of Isabelle learning to listen within the environment in the definitive early years of implantation. She’ll eventually use something similar at school. I myself (a hearing aid user) had a radio aid throughout my education which was crucial for picking out information in a noisy classroom.
For now though, we’re getting to grips with the mini mic. Connecting it to the tablet was an instant success and had the added bonus of cutting the sound so we didn’t have to listen to two hours of Harry Potter!
Next, we had fun testing it around the house, clipping the mic to our clothes and seeing if it made much difference to her hearing from a distance. Isabelle’s eyes lit up when she realised she could hear the speaker in the next room. We had great fun telling her the ‘passwords’ to check she was hearing with clarity.
It was time to try it out in a new setting: Isabelle’s gymnastics classes. Whilst she’s still a little young to give reliable feedback beyond “yep it’s good!”, her gymnastics instructors have reported better focus. It appears to ease the strain of hearing in a large echoey hall with multiple voices bouncing off the walls.
We also got to test it out for Halloween trick-or-treating this year. With darkness partially obscuring people’s faces, lipreading can be tricky. We were able to use the mini mic to help her comprehension. It was also much easier to get her attention to stop her wandering too far and to make sure she was crossing roads safely in the excitement of the evening and anticipation of too many sweets!
In the future, we envisage taking advantage of it in a few different ways. Firstly, we’ll take the mic on bike rides to bridge the literal distance between us. It’ll hopefully stop us having to shout her name repeatedly when we need her to stop! Secondly, we can take it on aeroplanes and plug it directly into the audio source instead of headphones.
I’ll never stop being grateful for the gift of technology enabling Isabelle to hear the birds, listen to the Matilda soundtrack, and enjoy the buzz of conversation amongst her friends. It’s not a replacement for natural hearing, and she does need additional support, but to know she has options like the mini mic is the icing on the cake for our clever little chatterbox. We want to give her the world. This is just the start.