Interview with Dr. Daniel Taft from Blamey & Saunders Hearing about Neurotone’s LACE listening enhancement software
Blamey & Saunders Hearing are a supplier of self-programmable hearing aids, they also sell Neurotone’s listening enhancement (LACE) software to compliment their hearing aid range. Dr. Daniel Taft, Australia Hears’ Chief Technology Officer, was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about LACE.
Can you give us a brief introduction to LACE?
[Daniel Taft] LACE stands for Listening And Communication Enhancement. It was designed by leading audiologists at the University of California at San Francisco. LACE is an adaptive, interactive aural rehabilitation program that people can perform on their own PC, on their DVD player, or in a clinic under the supervision of their audiologist.
In the same way that physiotherapy helps rebuild muscles and compensate for physical weakness or injury, LACE training is used to help people develop skills and strategies to deal with situations when their hearing is inadequate. It helps people who have just acquired hearing aids (and also others who simply struggle in difficult situations) to make the most of their hearing.
Do you think people always understand the need for it? Hearing loss is obviously associated with ears, is it difficult to show the need to improve your brain’s ability to listen too?
[Daniel Taft] I think it is harder for some people to realise that there are real benefits to improving cognitive skills, unlike say physical training where the benefits are more obvious. Many people feel that purchasing a hearing aid is all that is needed to regain full communication abilities, but that is often unrealistic – just as it would be with any new tool or prosthesis. Hearing and listening are subtly different; one is a sense, the other is a skill.
Neurotone Inc. have a saying that “you hear with your ears and listen with your brain”.
How long typically would someone use LACE for before they start to see benefits?
[Daniel Taft] Data from Neurotone shows that after ten 20-minutes sessions, LACE users increase their ability to hear speech in a noisy room by up to 33%. Even after one or two sessions, LACE shows users that they are actually hearing more than they gave themselves credit for. LACE also offers lots of communication tips that help improve communication – every three minutes a new hint pops up.
You sell self-programmable hearing aids, seems like LACE is a perfect partner as it gives people complete control over their hearing?
[Daniel Taft] We agree! If a person is willing to regain control of their own hearing, and purchase and program their own hearing aids at home, then they are prime candidates to benefit from LACE. These sorts of people have no trouble becoming active listeners. We think we provide the perfect platform for LACE training.
Are there any plans for a iPod/mobile version?
[Daniel Taft] I’m told that Neurotone are developing a web-based program that will be platform independent. For now, there are Mac and Windows versions of LACE, and a DVD player version too.
Thanks again to Daniel for answering my questions. You can find out more about Blamey & Saunders Hearing by going to their website. To read more about LACE, or to download the free demo, go to the Neurotone website.