FM: A Success Story In The Library

FM: A Success Story In The Library
By Sarah “Speak Up Librarian” Wegley.
Edited with an introduction by Dan Schwartz

On occasion, when someone has real success we’ll post it on The Hearing Blog under their byline, so other people can learn from it. When my friend Sarah was having trouble understanding speech with her workplace, she first tried a hand-held “Pocket Talker” style assistive device coupled to her hearing aids via an inductive neckloop. But, this didn’t work very well, suffering from interference in certain places and just overall poor performance. However, at the Hearing Loss Association of America convention, Sarah saw — And heard — the benefits of using an FM transmitter & receiver to bring sound from the speaker’s lips straight to her ears, regardless of the amount of background  noise in the library where she works. Although originally looking at the pricey Oticon system, I suggested instead the Bellman Audio Domino, which costs less, works better, and in fact the Classic version is what we use. Fortunately for Sarah, her university library employer agreed to buy an FM system for her, and they purchased the premium Pro version, which has the unique ability for the wearer to remotely switch the transmitter microphone from omnidirectional to zoom with just a touch of the button on the receiver.

Sarah was so excited at the performance, she wrote not one, but two blog articles on it, here and two days later here. [Articles removed by Wegley in November 2012; no cached copies appear to be available] Following are excerpts from her articles:

I am very excited to share with all of you that I have found a solution to my hearing difficulties at the reference desk. The answer for me is the Bellman Audio Domino Pro FM system. I have one that comes with a neckloop so the beautiful, clear sound goes directly into my hearing aids’ telecoils. Here’s a summary of the advantages I’ve experienced while wearing the FM system at the reference desk:

  • No lipreading required! I can hear even the whisperers;
  • I can now hear patrons behind me who are trying to get my attention;
  • I can hear the phone clearly when I am away from the desk helping a patron at a computer. Before I relied on keeping an eye out for the red flashing light which signals an incoming call;
  • The HVAC [heating, ventilating, and air conditioning] noises that bothered me before have faded away to being unnoticeable;
  • I can easily hear my coworkers at the desk.
  • No more tension from straining to hear.

Best of all, my employer purchased the system for me to use at work so there was no cost to me. So, how does the system work you may be wondering. There are two main parts – a receiver and a transmitter. The transmitter is about the size of a cell phone. I place it on the reference desk and am wirelessly connected to it so I can walk away from it at any time which is particularly useful in my situation. The receiver I wear clipped onto my pants pocket. The neckloop mentioned before plugs into the receiver. I’ve worn the neckloop under my clothes and I think it’s rather unobtrusive. The same size as the transmitter, the receiver is noticeable since it hangs outside my clothing. But that’s important so I can access the volume and function controls.

When I walk away from the desk to assist a patron one-on-one at a computer, I switch a button on the receiver so sound is no longer coming from the transmitter but coming instead from the internal microphone on the receiver. I have learned to put the receiver in the pants pocket closest to the patron for best results.

If I forget to switch the function from transmitter to receiver and a conversation occurs at the desk while I’m away, I can hear every word clearly. It’s incredible but a bit distracting from my focus on the patron beside me.

Another funny thing for me is the realization that patrons have conversations with each other while they’re working at the computers. Now that I’m wearing the FM, I can hear people chatting. My coworkers just shook their heads when I reported in wide eyed amazement that “the students talk to each other!” Heh.

For me wearing the FM system makes me feel like this might be what normal hearing is like. I don’t give my hearing a thought. It just happens. It’s actually easy. I can’t believe how much I was missing even with hearing aids.

A coworker asked me why I didn’t wear the FM system all the time then. At first I was horrified at the thought of hearing ALL the time at work. I like my quiet. It helps me concentrate on my work. Later, I realized a better response would have been to explain that the FM system helps in difficult listening situations. Such as I was experiencing at the public reference desk with the people who whisper and the HVAC noise. Back at my cubicle, my coworkers know to get my attention and come talk to me directly rather than call out from across the room. For me, it’s better that way.

I recommend the Bellman Audio Domino Pro FM system with two thumbs up. I’d like to thank my friend Dan Schwartzwho suggested this system and provided lots of helpful assistance before and after I got it.

Bellman Audio Domino Pro

Here’s a photo of my FM System in its travel case. At the top is the neckloop, on the left is the charging device with plug. In the center is a clip-on microphone I can give a speaker to wear if I have to attend a meeting. Next over is the transmitter. At far right is the receiver.

  Here is a video from Bellman describing the Audio Domino Pro Sarah uses daily. There is a similar video for the Audio Domino Classic here.


Short link to this story:

Coming soon: The next article in our series on FM titled: FM: The Unfair Classroom Advantage

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About the author

Dan Schwartz

Electrical Engineer, via Georgia Tech

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