Talking about Hearing

A Workshop on Adjustment of Hearing Aids

Finding the right hearing aid and fitting it comes down to how people are able to talk about hearing.

Today’s digital hearing aids are complex devices that can be very helpful – if they are fitted to correspond to the hearing loss of each individual. But this process of adjusting the technology to fit precisely is no easy task because it requires knowledge about the individual’s condition that cannot simply be measured. Hearing tests based on pure tone and speech audiometry do not always seem to provide sufficient information because frequently, the fitting of a hearing aid takes several rounds of trial and error and the compliance rate for the use of hearing aids is low. For this reason, hearing aid fitters also rely on the patient’s subjective description of the hearing loss and the experience with the hearing aid. This may be problematic because medical specialists and patients use different language in communicating about this topic. Talking about hearing is thus an essential aspect of fitting a hearing aid successfully.

This seminar aims to explore how people talk about hearing and how we may seek solutions. We have invited an ear doctor/audiologist to explain the problem. Then an interaction researcher and an anthropologist show results from their recent studies of how people talk about hearing and what they expect from hearing aids. In between the theatre group Dacapo and researchers from the new SPIRE centre will encourage participants to think in innovative ways about supportive hearing technology. 

May 22-23, 2008

Syddansk Universitet, Sønderborg, Alsion, Third Floor

Organized by:  
SPIRE (Sønderborg Participatory Innovation Research Centre) and
IFKI (Institute of Business Communication and Information Science)

Maria Egbert []  (register with me)
Jacob Buur []


Thursday, May 22

Focus on hearing health (For health care practitioners and researchers)

During the first day of the workshop we bring together medical practitioners, persons with hearing impairment and researchers to engage in discussing examples of the hearing aid users’ perspective on hearing. Susanne Bisgaard from the University of Frankfurt/Main will lead an activity where we look at some of her recent interview data from a study of 41 Danes acquiring a hearing aid. A representative from Oticon will talk about what a hearing aid can do. We will then view a video of a real life session where a hearing aid is fitted. The video is part of a dissertation by Louise Skelt (Australian National University) who will guide us through the video analysis. We will then be able to enjoy Dacapo Theatre in a creative activity to innovate how we talk about hearing. Researchers from SPIRE will then present their project plans on hearing loss and hearing aids. 

Arrival and coffee

Welcome, introductions, Jacob Buur, SDU

Getting a hearing aid: What do people think they want? What do people get?
Susanne Bisgaard, University of Frankfurt/Main
Group activity: What interviews can show

What can a hearing aid do?
Gitte Englund, Oticon


Hearing aid fitting: How an audiologist and a client talk
Louise Skelt, Australian National University
Henry Larsen, Dacapo Theatre + acters/actresses 
Video analysis (group activity)

Innovating how we talk about hearing

Summary - What have I taken away from today? Maria Egbert, SDU

Friday, May 23

Focus on research (Mainly for researchers)

The second day is mainly directed at the researchers (others are also welcome) who are interested in learning about the medical side of hearing loss. Ture Andersen, head doctor of the audiology section at Odense University Hospital, will talk about how to find the right hearing aid. After learning about Louise Skelt’s conversation analytic study on hearing loss yesterday, she will talk to us as a long-standing audiologist about rehabilitation of hearing loss by addressing its causes, effects and assessment. Susanne Bisgaard will present on “Coping with emergent hearing loss” based on her recent dissertation. There will be slots for discussion between presentations and at the end to focus on the implications of what we have learned to the research design of our studies.

Arrival and coffee

Introduction to today

Coping with emergent hearing loss:
Expectations and experiences of new, adult hearing aid users
An anthropological study in Denmark 
Susanne Bisgaard, University of Frankfurt am Main

How to find the right hearing aid
Ture Andersen, Odense University Hospital, Audiology Section

Group discussions: Room for research and innovation


Research projects on Hearing:
Pilot study on transitions in hearing, Trine Heinemann & Brendon Clark, SPIRE
Hearing loss in the baby boomer generation, Maria Egbert, IFKI and SPIRE

Open discussion: Implications for research design