Open hearing aids refer to hearing aids that utilize open ear hearing aid technology. Open hearing aids are mini behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids that are designed to hide behind the outer ear. Sound is discretely routed into the ear canal via thin plastic tubing which connects to a soft tip that sits within the ear canal, but does not block the ear canal like traditional hearing aids. The result is a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound are still allowed to enter the ear naturally, while amplified sound from the hearing aid enters through the tip.
Since the introduction of open ear hearing aid technology, the number of BTE hearing aids sold in the United States has dramatically increased. According to the Hearing Instruments Association (HIA), over 60% of hearing aids sold in 2009 were BTE hearing aids (Rogin, 2009).
This increase in popularity in BTE hearing aids is more than likely due to the success of open hearing aid technology on consumer satisfaction. Consumers report not only a natural physical feel while wearing them, but also report the overall listening experience sounds organic and natural.
|Open hearing aid example, Oticon Agil. Photo courtesy Oticon.|
Open hearing aids are designed for persons with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss, depending on the make and model. Various models consist of mini BTE hearing aids with slim tube or Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) models. For RITE hearing aids the speaker of the hearing aid actually sits within the ear canal instead of behind the ear on the main body of the hearing aid.
An example of an open ear hearing aid can be seen in the figure to the right.
Rogin, C. (2009, October 13). Top Ten Reasons for Hearing Aid Delight AudiologyOnline, Recorded Course 14615. Retrieved from the e-Learning section on http://www.audiologyonline.com