How Not to Take an Ear Impression, filmed by BBC at Royal Berkshire Hospital


How Not to Take an Ear Impression, filmed by BBC at Royal Berkshire Hospital: This YouTube video is so wrong, on so many levels!

One of the ingredients in a successful hearing aid fitting is to start out with a carefully made ear impression, so that you end up with a comfortable earmold or shell that causes no instability (squealing from “feedback”); and to this end we at The Hearing Blog have been keeping an eye out for a good video to show our readers what they should look for from their hearing aid professional.

However, this BBC Berkshire YouTube video by correspondent Anne Diamond shot in the Audiology department at NHS’ Royal Berkshire Hospital is so wrong, on so many levels, that it merits “featuring” in The Hearing Blog.

Let’s start by watching the video; but don’t bother to turn on the captions, as they are missing:



For starters, the BBC Berkshire production values are terrible: Besides the first problem of no captions, the lighting is terrible, and Diamond’s right arm is blocking the camera view of the hearing aid professional kneading the silicone impression material.

What’s more, at least in this clip, there was no showing of the ear preparation, including the otoscopic inspection and the placing of the otoblock.

Also, from both the procedures shown and supplies in view, it appears no infection control procedures are being used.¹

Next, the professional does not appear to measure the quantity of accelerant used in the condensation cure silicone impression material; nor does he wash his hands before kneading the impression material, as if there has been any hand lotion used, it will cause curing problems.

The professional takes over 45 seconds to knead the impression material: Whether condensation or additive cure silicone² impression materials are used, it is vital to mix the components as quickly as possible, as it starts to cure in less than 30 seconds, gaining viscosity in the process.

Finally, we don’t even get to see the finished impression!

There’s a Yiddish phrase that accurately describes this video: Oy vey!


BBC's Anne Diamond and crew at Royal Berkshire Hospital after taking an ear impression

BBC’s Anne Diamond and crew at Royal Berkshire Hospital after taking an ear impression



  1. Infection control is vital in every hearing aid dispensing and audiology practice. Our friend Dr. A.U. Bankaitis, Vice President of Oaktree Products in St Louis, is an expert in the area, and we suggest reading her excellent series of articles on this vital subject;
  2. Silicone (actually vinyl polysiloxane) ear impression material comes in two varieties:  Condensation cure, and additive cure. These are room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) polymers that cross-link to cure; and the way to tell them apart is that condensation cure material uses a small amount of an accelerant, while additive cure material uses a 50:50 mix. For more on the impression materials used, please see Viscosity vs Hardness of Ear Impression Materials.


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About the author

Dan Schwartz

Electrical Engineer, via Georgia Tech


  1. Dr Laura Booth
    June 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for your comment. This was for radio only promoting our new mobile audiology unit, not meant for viewing or instruction as obviously you can’t see any of the actual process pre or post impression. Infection control issues are taken very seriously in the department and are followed to best practice quality standards, there is a sink in the unit and hand gel. As you are aware filming is greatly edited. We are very proud of the service provided at Royal Berkshire and bring hearing services cliser to patients in the community and whilst comments are noted and considered it would be appreciated if facts were sought before unsubstantiated comments made. If you had actually seen any of the actual process rather than edited highlights and put it in the context that it was done you would be embarrassed at the attempt to tarnish a great departments reputation with colleagues and patients. Happy to discuss further outside of Social media through the department as appropriate.

    • Dan Schwartz
      June 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      The Hearing Blog replies to Dr Laura Booth:

      Technically, the video was not “edited” as there does not appear to be any break; although almost certainly it looks like the beginning was trimmed off.

      Perhaps you can convince BBC Bradford’s Anne Diamond to release the entire unedited video; and if she does, we will post it below the original video, and let the readers view them, and decide for themselves.

      In any event, the video stands, as it’s what the lens & microphone captured.

      [Incidentally. our strict policy is one of robust debate, which entails publishing *all* (non-Spam) comments, even ones that insult us (just look at my series on the November 20101 Advanced Bionics HiRes 90k recall); which is why we published your comments unedited.]

    • Dan Schwartz
      June 15, 2013 at 8:05 am

      The Hearing Blog also replies:

      Clarifying our earlier reply, we need to stress that we have problems with both what we saw of the ear impression practices at RBH on the video itself .AND. of the BBC Berkshire’s production values & most egregiously, the lack of closed captions. This is reflected in the lede:

      How Not to Take an Ear Impression, filmed by BBC at Royal Berkshire Hospital: This YouTube video is so wrong, on so many levels!

      YouTube makes it stupidly simple to caption your videos: Upload the video to YouTube, then upload a text file of the transcript. YouTube’s speech recognition processing will then “grab” the text and use it to automagically sync it to your speech, instead of guessing (and sometimes making embarrassing errors). For the simple instructions see Getting started with captions and transcripts

    • Jeffrey M. Goldberg
      April 14, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Dr. Booth may have private knowledge of the fine work the hospital is doing, however, allowing the broadcast of incorrect and misleading information does all of us involved in the hearing preservation industry a disservice. In some circles it might be fine to brush off inaccuracies with “we were only pretending to do an impression – it wasn’t for real” but filming this, allowing it to be broadcast, and posted on the web is not one of those circles.

      Dr. Booth, instead of justifying this broadcast of misleading information, a note to ensure accuracy was a tenant of information the hospital releases might serve you better.

  2. D Taylor
    June 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I have been using the audiology services at the Royal Berkshire Hospital for over 10 years, so I feel well placed to comment on this.
    In my experience I have always found the audiology team very professional and can confirm that they have always followed the infection control, plus take a lot of trouble over the ear preparation to ensure the impression material will have a good fit.
    It is totally unfair to judge adherence to process and the competence of the staff based on what is a very poor video production. The audiology team work very hard to provide a professional service – so it’s particularly disappointing to include them whilst berating the shoddiness of the BBC on this occasion. Surely the reporter must know that TV and film rarely reflects reality and things are often done in a certain way to make it easier to film? The title should be “How not to produce a video on taking an ear impression”. I shall withhold comments on the competence of this report to obtain facts and kindly suggest that if you genuinely want to rate their service – then go to the department and judge for yourself.

    • Dan Schwartz
      June 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Darryn, I’m sure your observations at the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s audiology department are valid. However, we can only go by what we see in the BBC video, as the camera lens does not lie~

  3. Sebastian Hendricks
    June 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I have no direct links with the department, but as a specialist know of the departments excellent reputation amongst professionals.

    Posting this is like interpreting numbers or citing what someone said, without context it is meaningless and does not have a purpose either.

    If the intention was to support good impression taking, one could have used the video without naming and added captions in / highlighting what one could / should have done better. We can all always learn.

    So I am still not clear what this negative representation’s aim was to acchieve?

    The guidelines of the British Society of Audiology give good advise on how to do things well in Audiology.

    • Dan Schwartz
      June 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Sebastian, it’s pretty straightforward: Start the video, and in the lower right corner click the YouTube logo. You’ll see it say “Watch on YouTube” and it takes you to the page that is titled Anne Diamond at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

      That being said, generally your NHS colleagues indeed do a good job dispensing hearing aids and MAPping CI’s; and on the latter, their auditory rehab provided is much better than here in the States.

  4. Bundy Griffin
    July 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I concur with D Taylor. The bitter subjective commentary so consistently provided by the editor borders on absurd and ignorant. Publication and maintenance of a blog intended to educate and inform should be exempt from such biased commentary. However, unfortunately, such is the age of the Internet…

    • Dan Schwartz
      July 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      @Bundy, as I told Darryn three weeks ago, we can only go by what we see in the BBC video, as the camera lens does not lie~

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