[Athen] FM receiver for computer and hearing aid

Alexa Schriempf ats169 at psu.edu
Mon Mar 31 16:35:27 PDT 2014

As a life long FM user myself, a couple of things spring to mind:

1) You won't find any information about FM systems from hearing aid
companies. FM systems *usually* are manufactured by non-hearing aid
manufacturers. (One exception is Phonak, who also makes FM systems that are
pairable with their hearing aids).

2) Most simple solution: why not just use the FM system the student is
using and use a Y adapter on the receiver? One part of the Y would take the
neckloop or DAI cable, and the other part of the Y would be to connect to
the computer's audio jack. You would still need skype or internet phone
call to send the audio signal out to the CART service.

3) Most remote CART services use a wireless mic and transmitter that sends
a signal to your laptop....basically what you are doing is extending the
laptop's microphone for better quality. Here's one that sits on a desk:
they make lapel ones too.

In this way, the mic (not an FM transmitter!) is sending an audio signal to
the laptop. That signal is then sent to the remote captionist through a
skype call. The captionist then types the audio into a website that the
student accesses. So skype is operating in the background, while the CART
provider's website is on front. The student views the website for the text
of the audio.

You could use a PART of an FM system to jack into the audio being sent to
the laptop via the remote mic. This would be either a T coil neck loop, or
regular headphones.

To be clear, the audio feed would be coming from a wireless audio mic, that
has its own signal. This is not an FM system. If in fact the remote CART
service is using FM system to transmit, I'd be curious how they're doing
that. While I'm on this, there *IS* another way to connect an FM to the
computer, but you still have to use skype to send the

And to be more clear: how the HOH student "jacks" into the laptop for the
audio is to find an interface that works well for him/her. Me personally, I
don't like T coil because the signal is not as loud as it could be; my
cochlear implant processors are too high on my head such that a t coil neck
loop sitting around my neck barely reaches the processors in terms of field
strength. I have to boost the volume on my laptop AND my processors. Once I
boost, it's totally fine. But it's extra work to push the buttons on my
remote that pairs with my processors, deal with the neckloop, and all the
other equipment. I just use Bose headphones and plug into the laptop.

If the student is a hearing aid user, headphones won't work very well
because they will cause, most likely, but not always, very noisy feedback
that is audible to everyone. Can be embarrasing. Thus, there are two
options, depending on the hearing aid brand. One can go with Direct Audio
Input (DAI) cable, connected to the audio jack of the computer; or one can
go with the Neckloop T Coil (or over the ear T coil hooks), which also
connect to the audio jack of laptop.

Over the ear t coil loop example:

Neckloop t coil example:

Loops and cables to connect hearing aids to the audio on a laptop are a
dime a dozen; the student can explore which ones s/he likes best, and work
hopefully with his or her audiologist to shoot for the best audio quality
possible. Avoid bluetooth, especially generic off the shelf blue tooth. If
the student already has an FM system, the end of that neckloop or DAI
cables *may* have a plug end that is correctly sized to fit the laptop. If
it's a prong but wrong size, an adapter plug can be purchased. If it's a
more proprietary plug (like those airplane audio jacks used to be), then
you're probably better off getting a whole new neckloop or DAI cable.
Usually, the FM maker has a variety of cable options. You could contact
them for a different cable.

The difference between #2 and #3 is where the user sits in the "audio
circuit". Basically, you need to mic the speaker, and send that audio via a
phone or internet phone signal. You could either use a mic that send the
signal to the user (Ie, FM system), then jack the computer into the signal
alongside the user (#2 above), OR use the mic to send the signal to the
computer (wireless, non-FM mic), and then jack the user into the computer.
FWIW, I would prefer whichever system had the better mic, and I wouldn't
know until I tried both. No matter which way you go, you still need skype
or the like to send the audio feed remotely. And no matter which way you
go, the audio feed is still real time, so even if the internet drops out,
the student will still hear whatever comes through the mic worn by the

Hope this isn't TMI. Understanding how FM systems can interface with other
technology is difficult b/c there are a variety of hook up options....but
no extra "special" devices needed -- just cables and adapters.


On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 6:16 PM, Sean Keegan <skeegan at stanford.edu> wrote:

> Hello all,


> A question was posed to me and I am not having much success finding an

> answer. Here is the situation:


> A student is using a standard FM receiver with the transmitter provided to

> the instructor. There is also a need to have remote CART services provided.

> We are trying to find a method to have the audio signal sent from the FM

> transmitter to a USB or audio-in FM receiver connected to a laptop which

> can then send the signal to a remote transcription provider.


> I am not having much success in locating such a device. The CART provider

> says that they exist as secondary receivers and can plug into the audio-in

> jack or USB port, but has not received any information from the hearing aid

> company.


> Any ideas from the field?


> Take care,

> Sean

> _______________________________________________

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> athen-list at mailman13.u.washington.edu

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Alexa Schriempf, Access Tech Consultant
Office for Disability Services
Teaching and Learning with Technology: Accessibility Group
Adaptive Technology Services, University Libraries
Penn State
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