The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

Modernising Hearing Aid Services: Implementation and Evaluation of Paediatric Services

Précis of briefing given by John Bamford to NCPA Meeting on 17 July 2001

In October 2001 John Bamford completes his one-year secondment to Modernising Hearing Aid Services (paediatric) [MHAS(P)]project. Amy Skipp (who has a background in speech and language therapy) was appointed as project co-ordinator in January 2001. Sunderland (self-funded) has joined the original ten sites and all have obtained multi-ethical approval. Recently an interim report has been submitted and distributed to a group that included Peter Greenaway and Sue White from the DoH, James Strachan, John Lowe and Angela King from the RNID, Adrian Davies, Mark Haggard and John Wilderspin in addition to representatives from the NDCS.

The strategic roll-out of modernisation is now being strongly considered. To date few instruments have been fitted although the team's understanding has increased significantly. Europe-wide it is not current practice to fit high technology products (digital hearing aids) to children: figures show a distribution of 60% Analogue; 30% Programmable; 10% Digital.

The current products supplied to the MHAS adult project are being used for paediatric fittings with the addition of a 2-battery version of the Starkey Gemini. The range has been further increased by the addition of two power instruments, the Widex P37 and the Lavis SpaceLine 71D405. Future tendering arrangements are being reviewed as system must be able to change rapidly to take advantage of technology changes and ensure delivery of first class products to the paediatric sector.

As well as a more fluid tendering process, specific reference will be made for the need for paediatric instruments to have special features such as switching, volume control, artificial intelligence, lockable battery draws and colour options. Consideration should be given to the use of and intervention with noise reduction and directionality within hearing instruments.

Prior to the meeting, Professor Bamford had circulated a briefing document itemising the details and protocols of the studies. Time and financial restraints may necessitate abbreviation of these. A number of key issues for Paediatric Services were highlighted:

  • working Groups
  • availability of Digital Sound Processing products
  • probe tube measurement - earmould protocols
  • insert earphone VRA
  • percentage patient management protocols
  • standardised assessment
  • communication of information between Health and Education
  • ensuring medical aspects are adequately covered.

In connection with roll-out several protocols have been developed in association with Mary Hostler: FM advantages. The new protocols suggest:

  • balancing by output rather than gain
  • checking digital instruments outside of the clinic
  • adaptation of manufacturers' software - finding algorithms to verification targets.
  • earmoulds and impressions for children including specification of turn-around time, materials and manufacturing techniques.

Russell Brett

Published in BATOD Magazine November/December 2001