Using the Roger Pen
13th May 2020 | by Peter | posted in Hearing Solutions
So, what are the benefits?
The main ones for me are:
Because of the damage to our hearing mechanism background noise, however slight, will mask and or distort the other person’s voice making it very difficult or impossible to follow conversations. Even the Roger pen is not a miracle cure, no personal listener will completely remove background noise. What they will do, and the Roger pen does this very well, is to reduce the background noise and allow the speaker’s voice to cut through. Listening when you are deaf can be exhausting, the Roger pen helps to make it less so.Use the unidirectional microphone setting holding the pen close to the speaker, or if you need to lay it on a table use the microphone switch to set unidirectional or interview setting as it is sometimes called and make sure the pen is pointed towards the speaker. Be sure to explain to the other person what the pen is and why you need to use it. Switch you hearing aids to loop only. When I receive a new hearing aid I ask the audiologist to enable two loop programs: one with loop and hearing aid microphones both working (T and M), and the second program where the loop setting works but the hearing aid mics are switched off (T only). And yes, my hearing aid is an NHS one. My cochlear implant (CI) processor on the other ear already comes with both of those programs. Setting my hearing aid and CI to loop (T) only setting means that I don’t hear any background noise in my aids, so the only sound I hear is from the Roger pen which when it is on unidirectional setting is suppressing background noise and lifting the speakers voice. If the noise is very bad I switch the pen to lanyard mode and ask the other person to hold the pen close and speak carefully into it. This often gives me an advantage over people with normal hearing in noisey places.
Have a conversation on your mobile phone without touching your phone. If you have a Bluetooth mobile phone, or house phone, pair it to the Roger pen. Refer to your phone’s user-guide for instructions and check the Roger pen manual for more information about compatibility and details about the pairing process. Usually, once paired, the two devices will automatically connect when they are both switched on and in Bluetooth range (up to 3 meters). When a call comes in you will hear a signal in your hearing aids, press the green accept button on the pen and speak into the pen’s mic, hang up when finished by pressing the pen’s red decline button. Make a call by dialling in the normal way from your phone, hear the other party in your hearing aids, speak using the pen’s mic and hang-up using the red decline button.
Other features include last number redial and voice dialling if this allowed by your phone. If you are not expecting to use the phone for some time turn off the Bluetooth function on the pen – Bluetooth is very draining on the battery.
Standard corded phones can be used with the Roger Pen. You will need an extra piece of equipment such as the Retell 156 Telephone Recorder (plugged into the Roger docking station with pen inserted – see image below) or the Sarabec PhonePlus telephone Handset Amplifier https://www.sarabec.com/phoneplus-telephone-handset-amplifier-p38/. With the latter simply connect the Roger pen to the PhonePlus headset socket using the micro USB audio cable. You will hear the speaker’s voice in your hearing aids but speak into the phone handset. PhonePlus needs testing to verify this and decide whether to include Retell..
Stream music etc from your mobile phone via the Roger pen. You can’t do this using Bluetooth so you will need to connect the pen to the phone using the micro-USB audio cable. Use this cable to connect to other equipment such as PCs, laptops, tablets, radios and MP3 players.
For TV listening, connect the docking station using the cables provided to the red and white audio out sockets at the back of the TV, or use a SCART adaptor, the sound will stream to your hearing aids. If these sockets aren’t present on your TV and you have an Optical audio out socket instead you will need a converter, see https://www.sarabec.com/digital-audio-connection-converters-s8/. You can leave the docking station in situ and simply remove the pen until you next watch the TV. The pen can be recharged without the docking station.
It is also possible to connect several Roger microphones wirelessly to one or more receivers to create a network of people listening and speaking – in this way they are widely used in the workplace and schools. You can connect as many receivers as you like to one pen or other types of Roger mic, so Roger systems are used a lot as tour guide systems at cultural venues like museums and other tourist attractions where a guide takes you around.
Usually you can expect around 6 hours from the battery, (shorter if prolonged Bluetooth usage) and when it is low you will hear audible signals every 20 mins or so in your hearing aids, the indictor light will flash red to confirm. Charging takes about 2 hours.
Access to Work
The Roger range is an invaluable workplace tool for people with hearing loss. Funding to help purchase it may be available through Access to Work: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work.
At the time of writing there are limitations in place to avoid infection. The Roger pen can help us listen more clearly whilst socially distancing because it enhances sounds over distance. However, for the time being, holding the pen too close to people or even passing the pen to the other person should be avoided.