This small paper is a bit about me and my experience in programming my own hearing aids; primarily, about the knowledge I have gained in this area over the last 5 or 6 years. Please carefully review the "legal fine print" at the bottom - it is what allows us to share our personal knowledge bases and information without problems.
When time permits, I plan to write more detailed articles and a "FAQ's" page on common questions and problems we all face in restoring hearing and self programming, so check back. If you need to reach me, or have special package requests, the best way is to send me a personal email with your detailed question to:
I also plan to construct an auxiliary website with more detailed information at:
Thank you for your interest and support.
I am simply another person who had a need to hear; actually to restore my hearing loss. Some of my loss was just age and hereditary issues, but the most substantial part was from aggressive chemotherapy almost 7 years ago. Hearing loss was a small price to pay to say the least - I'm obviously still here!
I spent countless hours of time and research in solving these issues and my hearing problems for myself. I'm retired. My first career was in Electrical Engineering & Management. I went back and earned a degree in Business/Finance, after which my wife and I started a number of companies. Among those was a very successful computer manufacturing and networking company in the years before the "big guys" like Dell. My first computer was an old Apple II in 1979 that was built by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in a garage in California. Yes, I'm somewhat of a "geek" at heart with a "businessman clear-coat" over the top. Those elements allowed us to retire early and pursue our interests. This is one of my many passions - obtaining the best hearing restoration possible for myself, then sharing that knowledge base with others.
I am extremely bright and well versed in many diverse fields such as mechanics, electronics, geology, math and the general nature of our world and universe. I graduated in the top 1% of 25,000 students at the University of Utah for the years I attended. Science, Mechanics, Math, Computers, Software and such topics are where I tend to spend leisure time. I was also a private pilot and aircraft restoration mechanic prior to cancer and chemotherapy.
I try to be humble. I honestly can't take credit for my abilities; where I am, or even who I am. Why? Simply because my scientific background makes it clear, at least to me, that such factors are the result of the random probability distribution of nature. To take credit would be much like the Elephant taking credit for being "large" in a size contest. Sorry, Charlie, you didn't get to choose to be the Elephant, nature did that for you. What you can do is be grateful - which I very much am at this point in life.
While I can't take such credit, what I can do is share and give back a portion of these gifts of nature. This page, in conjunction with my endeavors in the areas of self-programming one's own hearing aids are part of my effort to "give back".
Can You Do This ?
Again, self-programming is clearly not for everyone. If you can run a modern computer program such as Word, Excel, Quickbooks etc., you have a good start. You'll also need an understanding of audio frequencies, how various frequencies effect hearing of sounds and general audiology related elements. With those pre-qualifications, chances are this will be relatively straight-forward for you to do - if you have the desire to learn. There is a "dummy mode". A screen shot of that is shown below.
In addition, there are many forums and platforms to learn and share experiences with others about specific problems and goals - among the hearing impaired community from mild to almost deaf. The best forum, in my opinion, is the Hearing Aid Forum and may be found at: http://www.hearingaidforums.com/ . If you have a question, that is a great place to look first, simply because someone else had probably already solved your problem and is willing to share the answer with you.
An effort and desire to learn for yourself is key. There are many people on the forums and in other such settings who will point you in the right direction in order to allow you to learn more quickly for yourself. It is a process of learning numerous elements, tricks and new aspects about your own personal hearing loss. I found there are almost endless "tweaks" to improve my hearing in the multitude and diverse environments I encounter every day.
About Hearing Aids/Devices
I work only with Phonak. At the onset, I carefully reviewed and studied every major brand. Phonak came out on top in virtually every area of interest to me. I don't want to dilute my efforts and be "all things to all people", so Phonak is my personal choice of specialization. I can refer you to trusted business associates on other major brands such as Sediments for repair or replacement.
While there are numerous companies such as "America Hears" that will sell you aids and a programmer - a programmer for their specific aids only, my personal opinion, after ordering and trying a pair of their aids and programmer for a month a few years ago is this: "Don't waste your time...". Besides having a sub-standard product, their "Big us, little you" attitude tells more about their owner's self-instilled "corporate culture" within the company.
Back to Phonak. Phonak digitally programmable aids are probably one of the finest incarnations of electronics, firmware and software I have seen in a dedicated computer in my lifetime. Yes, these truly are small dedicated function computers. They can be programmed to be simple and make the moment-to-moment adjustments and changes automatically and seamlessly for you, or they can allow you to make your own changes in real time, as you have decided in programming them for yourself. This is true for the continuum between these two extremes - as simple as you like, or if you are a "button pushing knob twister", you could not do better than if it were a "TV remote"; and these have remotes available for most models as well!
The Basic Problem
In my own case, I recognized the normal way the majority of people address their hearing loss was to consult a retail hearing aid store or outlet and/or an audiologist. After many visits to such places, and the "free" trials - one being the America Hears %(&^)%^#@, I felt I could do better. The process began.
In fairness, there there are always the time/profit constraints involved with any business. Hearing aid retailers are no different. From my perspective and experience, a "perfect fitting" or something close is a rather lengthy process that takes time, trial and testing in the real world environment to even get close.
That is one reason the "self-programming" packages, such as America Hears products are so popular. Unfortunately, most such new or retail packages are differentiated on a "lowest price point" basis. That defines the fact that they can't afford either the patent royalties on the best algorithms (methods of sound processing) that top-end hearing aids incorporate, or the many features top end aids offer.
This is precisely what makes the self-programming of Phonak's so unique - It is truly the best of both worlds, not to mention the advantage that you have the ability to make the changes YOU want and not the changes some other person, often with good hearing, makes based upon their interpretation of the changes you should have.
I quickly realize that conveying information about my hearing objectives and needs to an audiologist, one who typically did not have my hearing loss, was much like a blind man trying to convey to normal "seeing" person what they don't see... . It is the old "how can I know what I don't know if i don't know it?" There are imperfect mechanisms to "refine" the restoration of hearing such as COSI or ICOSI, a means of quantifying such issues, but in the final analysis, the person best in a position to achieve what I wanted to achieve was myself. Thus began the journey that has brought me to this point. For additional information, see: http://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/05/42/4suppl2/pdf/saunders.pdf
I personally can't see how any audiologist, no matter how well intentioned they may be; and many are very well intentioned, can possibly spend the the time or have the understanding of how you hear and then accurately "fine-tune" any individual's hearing aids and fitting to the degree they truly can be perfected; just as I have with mine by doing my own "tweaks", adjustments and experimentation through the many different pairs of aids as I have experimented with and learned.
These aspects, in my opinion, are clearly why so many aids end up unused in a dresser drawer somewhere. They are then donated or sold as used with little or no use, but are still often very current or near current state-of-the-art devices. Many, if not most people just give up in frustration. This can be a wind-fall for those who don't take the route of "full retail" new devices and shop a bit for their own needs in the secondary markets.
The Basic Solution
I have worn hearing aids now for about 6 years. My hearing loss is sever to profound and I struggled with all the normal issues of adapting and just not hearing like I want at times, particularly in any background noise environments.
I have over 150 major fittings I have done for myself as my hearing and desires to hear certain sounds, AND to not hear other sounds (like my wife's voice when she's angry) have evolved and changed over the years. Much was pure research and leaning, but still invaluable in understanding. Each of those fittings has many "snap shots" of the changes within each of the 150 master fittings so I can replicate, go back or enhance any fitting and condition within seconds. I even have a fitting for use when my allergies are bad to make things not sound "plugged up and hollow". I can uploaded, or modified and uploaded any of my fittings, or even slightly adjust my current fitting within moments using iPFG, and ICube and about any current IBM compatible computer.
I wear both Exelia M's as well as Exelia Art M's as my regular aids. Because of the peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy, I'm not able to accurately feel the smaller devices and buttons such as are found on the Audeo Yes and Mini or Micro models. I do use a MyPilot Remote Control on a regular basis for ease in changing programs and volume levels. Like most men with the TV remote in their hands, I like to press many more buttons than are necessary to achieve the objective (Ladies, it's a "man" thing - we can't help ourselves - if it's a button, it was meant to be pressed, especially if it is one of "your" buttons!).
Because of my ability to control the sounds I hear and those I don't want to in any particular environment, I'd wear hearing aids, even if I did not need them to hear basic sounds. Most modern digital hearing aids are operated in the "automatic" or "sound flow" mode most of the time. In that mode, they monitor the sound in the environment and make the necessary adjustments automatically to optimize hearing, comfort or whatever you have programmed them to optimize and do.
Couple all that functionality with the ability to stream or send wireless audio signals to your hearing aids via the ICom (Not the ICube programmer, but the ICom that looks very similar), signals such as two-way Bluetooth, your telephone, music, TV sound and about anything else you can imagine into your hearing aids (bionic ears to be exact) and the miracles of modern technology just amaze you and sound like you are right there. I can bury my head in the pillows and with my TV Link or Icom, I can hear every sound on the television crystal clear, no matter how low the volume is set for my wife - or even if she has the volume off and wants to sleep!
The ICube Programmer is, in my opinion, a marvel when used in conjunction with current Phonak hearing aids. The ICube Phonak programmer is functional with most Phonak devices in the CORE or SPICE Platform product lines. No appointment and no trip to the audiologist - just turn the computer on, start Phonak's iPFG software (a free download and open license), a few clicks and it's done! This is a screen shot below of the "Automatic Mode" or "Dummy Mode" mentioned earlier. It makes adjustment easy; just select the condition(s) on the left and the changes you want on the right while you listen to pre-recorded sounds applicable to the type of environments you have selected.
Notice the right and left can either be changed together, or separately! It is just as simple as selecting the setting on the left and clicking the buttons on the right to change the sound to what you want it to sound like. When it sounds like you want, save the changes to your hearing aids and away you go. Don't like it? Just go back to your last fitting or "snapshots" of the program you take along the way. This is a wise thing to do at every change so you can go back to any point. If you mess it up, just import the factory file and start from where they were originally.
Where To Begin
The best way to begin is to download the free Phonak iPFG 2.6b software, install it on your computer and begin to look around and use it. Just create a test client and start from the top. It is not necessary to have an ICube or hearing aids hooked up while you learn. That is only needed when you actually want to adjust or program your own devices.
Here is the link to iPFG 2.6b software download: Click Here for the free iPFG 2.6b Software Download
When you are ready, you can browser through the ICube manual. Click here for the ICube Manual
This will take time to download PDF Manual - please be patient.
This is clearly not for everyone. You will need to educate yourself on running the program and the basics, but the rewards are enormous if you have hearing loss and want the best restoration possible.
I plan to write more here at a later date, so check back. If you need to reach me, the best way is to send me a personal email direct with your question. I am at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Fine Print...
WAIVER OF FDA MEDICAL EVALUATION REQUIREMENTS & Legal Disclaimers
"I can tell you about my experiences and share the knowledge I have gained in this and other areas, but I cannot and will not practice audiology. I am not an audiologist. I want to be very clear about that aspect. I am happy to answer your questions, but the actual education, learning and adjustments are up to you for obvious legal and other reasons . Further, I make no representations about the fitness of any device or devices for your specific needs, use or intended uses and/or objectives. It is always wise, and I highly recommend, anyone with hearing issues should consult a medical doctor or medical hearing specialist to be certain a more serious underlying condition is not at the source of one's hearing problems or loss."
By or through the use of any information, data, processes or other elements contained herein, on our websites, or as a result of anything that may be secondarily obtained or used as a result of anything herein, the reader and/or user expressly accepts all responsibility and liability and agrees to hold the seller, author and contributors to this site and information completely harmless with respect to any and all factors to which this site, jointly or severally, in its' entirety, may be deemed to have been a cause, be it proximate, contributory or otherwise.
WAIVER OF FDA MEDICAL EVALUATION REQUIREMENTS
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By and through my purchase, I certify I am over age 18 and I have been advised the Food and Drug Administration has determined my best interest would be served if I had a medical evaluation by a licensed physician, preferably a physician who specialized in diseases of the ear, prior to purchasing a hearing instrument; or, alternately, a test by a licensed audiologist utilizing customary procedures and devices in the fitting of hearing instruments or aids. By my purchase and payment, I certify I do not wish either a medical evaluation or test before purchasing a hearing instrument.
FDA strongly encourages people to seek medical help before trying to remedy a hearing problem themselves. This is a waiver to the medical evaluation requirements when purchasing hearing aids. Please read carefully.
You, the prospective hearing aid user, must be 18 years of age or older. The hearing aid user should obtain a medical evaluation prior to the purchase of hearing aids, as this may not be the best solution to your hearing problem. We do not encourage anyone to bypass the medical evaluation. The exercise of this waiver may not be in your best health interest.
I have been advised by Seller herein that the Food and Drug Administration has determined that my best health interest may be served if I had a medical evaluation by a licensed physician or certified hearing professional before purchasing a hearing aid. By entering my bid or other offer to purchase this item, absent my providing seller with a signed statement to the contrary, I, through my bid and/or purchase, do hereby expressly waive and certify that I do not wish a medical evaluation before purchasing these/this hearing aid(s).
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