Realistic Expectations for Speech Recognition with Digital Hearing Aid Devices Providing Acoustic Amplification and Noise Averting Microphones

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People with hearing loss (HL) often express a desire for the particular hearing device that will yield the best speech recognition. The problem with fulfilling that desire is that a vast number of hearing devices are available from which to choose. In recent years, medical device regulatory agencies have generally viewed hearing devices (i.e., hearing aids), particularly the hardware and even the software, as substantially equivalent. The purpose of this manuscript is to: 1) Synthesize a number of variables about the person, environment in which hearing occurs, as well as characteristics of the hearing aids that can impact speech recognition. 2) Describe a created tool entitled Realistic Expectations 2 (RE2), which has application to the clinical needs of estimating expected speech recognition with and without hearing aids. RE2 is available as a supplemental file to this manuscript and may be useful for comparing estimates against measures of speech recognition ability in addition to assisting with the explanation of the operation and limitations of hearing aids. When expected speech recognition is achieved, subsequent development of speech and language can continue based on circumstance, cognitive status, and cultural-specific learning, as well as personal and societal betterment efforts like education, rehabilitation, and therapy.