What does the term ‘streaming’ mean in terms of hearing augmentation?

Stakeholders empowered to make vital decisions about hearing augmentation technology – including architects, electrical consultants and infrastructure experts – are presented with various (and often confusing) terminologies regarding this fluid science.

One such term is “streaming”.  Most of us think of “streaming” in the context of watching and listening to Netflix and the like, and YouTube and social media content.  That is, content is delivered to storage areas, then piped to the consumer via physical NBN cables, or through the air using mobile phone infrastructure, or using Wi-Fi.

Content needs to get to the consumer whatever brand TV they have, whatever brand phone they have or whatever software those devices use.  Systems must be agile.  The same agility needs to embraced by hearing augmentation tech.

Audio in a classroom which the Building Construction Code, Australian Standards, and State and Diocesan rules require to be augmented to learners, visitors and teachers, needs to be able to be received by whatever hearing aid is used and whatever software and hardware is built into it.

That’s why the UConnect hearing augmentation systems embrace streaming via the various transmitters which are made by the manufactures of hearing aid receivers.

Interestingly, this approach to stream or transmit via transmitters connected to on-wall interfaces is embraced the most progressive and inclusive State based regulators.

But, using WIFI hearing augmentation systems in education environments is either banned by State rules, or discouraged.

Australian Standard AS 1428.5:202: Design for access and mobility Communication for people who are deaf or hearing impaired states:

“The following are some of the reasons that smart phones or other wifi devices should not be required to be supplied by consumers who are deaf of hearing impaired:

(a) Consumers with hearing loss often use their mobile phone for SMS/text (not to hear on) and therefore do not own attachments as traditional attachments either are not loud enough or are not compatible with their hearing device(s).

(b) Some hearing devices have direct audio streaming receive capability. This is estimated at less than 1% of the hearing devices in use, although expected to increase over time.

(c) Hearing devices that directly receive streaming audio from their smart phone are generally much more expensive than equivalent hearing devices with streaming compatibility.

(d) In almost every case, to use the steaming facility on a hearing device, and application (commonly referred to as ‘apps’) is required, so a smart phone is required to be compatible with the application. People who rely on SMS only may use traditional mobile phones and not smart phones.

(e) People on low income may use traditional mobile phones and not smartphones”

And the Victorian School Building Authority’s May 2023 Building Quality Standards Handbook states:

“The department’s enterprise network is designed for laptops, PCs and networking. External servers are not subject to service agreements protecting voice traffic. Current Wifi systems have latency issues that interfere with lipreading and often require supplementary devices.”