For the 48 million Americans who experience hearing loss, watching TV can be one of the biggest listening challenges. Television shows and movies often have background music and sound effects that play over dialogue, making it hard to follow the on-screen conversations. Many people with hearing loss crank up the volume while watching TV, but this can distort the audio (and also annoy your family members).
Below are some tips for better TV watching when you have hearing loss.
Sound bars are sleek horizontal speakers that sit above or below your television screen and amplify sound better than the built-in speakers can. The multiple speakers inside provide a listening experience similar to surround-sound, but without the financial cost or amount of space required.
Some sound bars come with a wireless subwoofer that provide low-end bass, heightening the experience of hearing the rumble of a helicopter or roar of a dinosaur. Many are also Bluetooth-enabled, meaning you can play music through them via your smartphone, tablet or computer.
If you’re watching a show or movie by yourself, you can wear wireless headphones that connect to your TV using Bluetooth, radio-frequency (RF) or infrared (IR). These headphones typically connect to a base that plugs into the headphone jack on your TV and are over-ear models, meaning they can be worn at the same time as hearing aids.
Bluetooth-enabled smart TVs allow you to connect your headphones directly, without a base. Setup will depend on your model of TV as well as type of headphones.
According to the FCC, Congress has required all televisions to provide audio content as text onscreen since 2006. In 2012, cable operators, satellite distributors and online providers were also required to provide closed captioning, after the National Association of the Deaf sued Netflix for failing to do so.
These laws require captions to be accurate, matching the spoken words and background noises as closely as possible; synchronous, corresponding with the timing of dialogue and sound effects; complete, running from the beginning to the end of the program; and properly placed, not blocking other important visual information or running off the edge of the screen.
While some claim closed captions can be distracting, they are an important and useful tool to help you not miss any key auditory information.
For more listening strategies or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, contact the experts at Arizona Hearing Specialists today.