Sprek in the Sound Suite
A special thanks to Caryn Bursch, Audiologist at APD Ottawa for trying out our Audita II and Sprek systems in her clinic. Caryn needed a creative dual-mic wireless solution to facilitate communication in her sound booth. After a little experimenting, she settled on a Sprek toteable system. Here is Caryn’s account of using Sprek to great advantage in her clinic…
“I am an audiologist who decided to leave the field of hearing aids to focus on testing for auditory processing disorders. This is an area of investigation that helps children and adults alike who have a normal hearing test but cannot seem to hear in noise. The test sessions typically take up to 3 hours.
The first 25 years of my audiology career using a “stage voice” to communicate with hearing impaired clients probably set the backdrop to having my voice “break” during a bout of laryngitis a number of years ago. As was my habit, I felt fine, so I worked and talked right through what probably should have been a well needed rest for my voice. This time, my voice didn’t recover. Despite visits to a Speech-Language Pathologist, and not doing my vocal homework, any vocal strain left me intermittently hoarse. I told the children I worked with that I was a frog part-time, as I croaked and coughed my way through assessments. During my auditory processing assessments, pre-COVID, I had the children’s parents sit right beside me so they could listen in on the tests I was giving and their child’s responses. This gave them a front row seat in understanding their child’s challenges and needs, and as a bonus did not induce extra vocal strain unless we chatted too long.
Then came the global pandemic, COVID-19. I was already having trouble speaking at the end of an appointment as it was, how on earth was I going to speak not only through a mask, but project my voice loudly enough to be heard at the recommended distance of 6 feet away?
I shut down my clinic in early 2020 and wrestled with this. Was it time to retire early?
I re-opened my clinic after constructing a COVID safe plexiglass office within my office. I plugged in 30 feet of speaker cables to link the audiometer to a speaker near the parents who were no longer beside me, but at least 6 feet away and around the corner of the sound booth. Audiologists know that this is not the best way to communicate. I often told clients’ significant others “not to shoot ‘til they see the whites of their eyes”: to be within eyeshot and at a reasonable distance. The cables didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I could not attach them both to the audiometer and to pick up the child’s voice inside the booth. They looked hideous. They fell off the top of the booth. I ran out of duct tape to keep them on the booth.
Then I got an offer to try out Simeon’s FM systems. Cue the heavenly chorus. I put one mic near my audiometer speakers and now could project the sound of the tests and of children in the sound booth as far as I liked. That mic was strong enough that I wouldn’t have to raise my voice or come out from behind my plexiglass barrier to be heard. I ended up using the Sprek due to local electrical interference with the preferred Audita II. Jo-Ann Bentley came down to visit me to trouble shoot and provide support.
Now, thanks to the power of the FM system, I am back up to full speed in the job that doesn’t feel like a job, as I enjoy it so much. Parents are happy to hear their children inside the booth and I can keep them informed as to the intent of the tests and the test results as we go. I hear them using the volume control on the speaker when they need to hear better. I still sometimes sound like I’ve spent way too much time drinking whiskey in bars, but at least I can spend a few more years doing the work I love.
Thanks Simeon (and Jo-Ann!)”