Please note, the AirPod sound amplification features we talk about in this article are a tool you can start using today. However, AirPods are not intended to replace a hearing aid that has been determined by your audiologist/hearing aid dispenser to fit your specific ear anatomy and type of hearing loss. It’s very important if you have extreme hearing loss to get proper treatment and the right equipment. Untreated hearing loss can increase chances of social isolation, depression, and dementia.
Many people with untreated hearing loss shy away from getting hearing aids. Two of the most common reasons for this are the high cost, and the perceived stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid.
Hearing aids can be very expensive, more than $6,000 for the more advanced technology and features. And in many cases insurance providers do not cover the cost, or there is a cost-prohibitive copay.1 The result is that only about 20% of those who could benefit from hearing aids have them.
How to Turn Your AirPods into Listening Assistance Devices
One hearing solution you can do right now if you have an iPhone and AirPods, is to turn your AirPods into devices that will amplify sound so you can hear better.
Apple has a strong history of including accessibility features in its devices. The Headphone Accommodations new accessibility feature, Live Listen (available with iOS 14) amplifies soft sounds and adjusts certain frequencies. It also supports Transparency mode (on AirPods Pro), making quiet voices more audible and tuning environmental sounds to hearing needs.1
- Open settings on your iPhone
- Choose control center
- To add Live Listen to your control center, tap the green + next to the ear icon (you’ll need iOS 12 (or later) installed.
- To access control center when you want to use Air Pods as hearing aids on an iPhone with Face ID, swipe down from top right edge and swipe up from the bottom to close. On an iPhone with a Home button, swipe up from bottom to open Control Center and swipe down (or press Home button) to close.
There are three preset hearing profiles (Balanced Tone, Vocal Range, or Brightness) to choose from. Or to run a brief hearing test, go to Custom Audio Setup.
AirPods are not primarily designed as hearing aids, so there are limitations. They won’t amplify sound well enough to replace hearing aids if you have profound hearing loss.
Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation of Southern California can help you with the cost of hearing aids if you live in our California Service Area and meet our guidelines. Go here to find out how to qualify.