Audiobooks Can Help Hearing Aid Users

Listening to stories by ear has been a pastime that has happened for centuries. There are stories told now that would have only been passed on by word of mouth at some point in the past. Before computers and pen and paper this was the only method of telling a story or relaying information. Stories can be told in a way that is educational, imaginative, creative or comical. It certainly is not a dying art, with stories such as the Archers a popular fixture on Radio 4 and more and more people listening to pod casts.

As someone with a hearing loss, you may have lost the enjoyment of a good spoken story. Not being able to catch each part, or straining to hear the whole story that its just not fun or even funny. One of the best ways to help get back to enjoying spoken stories are audio books.

What Is An Audio Book

An audio book is essentially a recording of text being read from a book, most popular audiobooks are novels. You can get audiobooks by CD or digitally downloaded onto a smart phone, computer or tablet. The volume of an audiobook can be adjusted or even boosted. It isn't going to be enough to provide clarity and this is why the adjustment of volume is much better coming from your hearing aid instead.

Audiobook Listening Skills

As a hearing aid user, using audiobooks enables you to improve your auditory ability through the hearing aid. An audiobook gives you the perfect opportunity to practice listening skills on your own and at your own pace. Audiobooks can be fun, enjoyable and are easy to come by in today's world.

You want to start with an audiobook created from a book you have already read or an audiobook or a film that you are familiar with. This helps to predict the settings, scenarios and idea of vocabularly use. At this point you are best not picking a fiction or science fiction theme book, this type of book could use a variety of created words. Your best looking for audiobooks with clear spoken narrative with little background noise. It can be difficult to know if this what you are going to get from a audiobook until you buy it. Therefore look into recommended first time user audio books and ones that family and friends have suggested will provide you with what you need.

You can often preview an audiobook, I would play the first few minutes to just check it appears to be nicely audible for you and that you will be able to follow along. Then rewind to the beginning. Use the written text that comes with the audiobook and try to follow the written words as you hear the audio. Now this is a little difficult so do not worry if you find it hard. This process helps to connect the two together. It might take a little at first to get into the swing. This is why it is important to pick a slow paced clear narrative book to follow.  You want to do this only for short periods of time as it can become quite tiring. 

When you feel more confident with your audiobook. Replay chapters or all of the audiobook without following the words and see how you get on. It's normal to not pick up 100% of everything that is being said. The narrator may suddenly change volume to a whisper or be talking a little faster than before. One of the great parts to an audiobook is that you can rewind the chapter and play it again.

Once you feel you have read your audiobook well, try another book. Depending on how it went maybe try a slightly more challenging listening book. As you advance with your listening abilities with the audiobooks you will soon notice listening with your hearing aid in conversational environments to be better. Essentially you have been "brain training" and "relearning to hear". Try a book that also has a little action going on occasionally in the background, listening to stories in this manner will also help you when you listen to people out and about with your hearing aid in background noise.

You might find yourself enjoying the listening skills and listening to audio books. When you are looking for more challenging audiobooks, these will be books that have a number of different narrators and different accents. You can then go full on into reading a good classic fiction book and let your imagination run while you listen. An audiobook really does provide excellent "home work" opportunities for mastering listening with your hearing aid.

Where to Find Audiobooks As A Hearing Aid User

Audiobooks are becoming very popular, with the increased use of portable hand held devices. It means there is ease of access to downloading an audiobook. There are a number of platforms that provide audiobooks. We look at a few here to get you started.

Audible

When it comes to audiobooks, Audible is the first brand you will hear and be recommended. If the story you are looking for is now in audiobook form you are most likely to find it in Audible's collection. They provide an extensive selection of audiobooks from novels, to science fiction to the top best sellers.

Audible is not however free but is run by a choice of membership schemes. Audible does provide a 30 day trial for you to try there system out. Audiobooks can be downloaded via an app to be accessed offline later.

The app allows for adjustments that let you rewind, fast forward or reduce the speed of the narrator which are great features in getting used to listening with your hearing aid. Audible's free 30 day trial is a great indicator to see how well you get on with audiobooks with your hearing aids before subscribing for a membership. Audible offer its members the option to exchange your audiobook if unsatisfied in an "Great Listen Guarantee" this allows you to see if the sound quality is up to your hearing levels (with or without a hearing aid).

Check Audio Books @ Audible USA

Find Audio Books @ Audible UK

iTunes

One of the major positives of acessing audiobooks via iTunes is that you can pay per audiobook rather than via membership. There are a wide variety of choice, audiobooks vary in price with some being partciularly cheap and even free. This is because audiobooks are pulled from Audible but also free audiobook platforms to iTunes.  iTunes does still require you to have an account set up with iTunes but being an apple platform means you can easily access them on devices such as iPhones and iPads but also make it difficult if you use Android. Selecting your audiobooks from iTunes is great if you only plan on buying the occasional audiobook.

It also works great for you to be able to buy one audiobook to see if you enjoy audiobooks. Recently new adjustments have been made so that you can skip forward or back by a choosen number of seconds. The user interface has been made even easier so that the speed can be increased  1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 2x, and 0.75x however if you need to reduce the speed this isn't an option.  There are some nice additions however if you have your iPhone data wiped or the audiobook is deleted, if you have paid for the audiobook you can still redownload it.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/audiobooks/id50000024?mt=3

Overdrive

Overdrive is a completely free audiobook platform, however it is much more limited. It allows you to borrow audiobooks from your local library. There are no restrictions on what device you can listen to them on. You can acess overdrive using an overdrive desktop app or overdrive smart phone app. There is also whats called a Libby app you can acess the Overdrive platform by which has a friendlier user interface. As you are 'borrowing' the audiobooks it means that you'll not always be able to take the audiobook straight away as someone else may be using it, but you will be put on an on hold list for the next people to have it.

You will need to be a library goer and have a library card to use Overdrive. Different libraries may also vary in the books they have so one book may be available at a different library, this means however you will need a different library card to access an alternative library. While being at your library you will be able to make use of other services available to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some libraries (partcularily in Scotland) are also an NHS battery collection point.

https://www.overdrive.com/

LibriVox

Libravox is a completely free audiobook platform with all books narrated by volunteers. Librivox audiobooks can be downloaded onto any device, desktop computer, iPhone, android tablet. The audiobook can be downloaded or burned onto a CD with no concerns over copyright laws.

There is a limited range of books on this platform which is mostly filled with classical literature making it a great platform for learning literature academically. You also might find an absolute gem of a story that hardly anyone has heard before. LibraVox is a simple user interace to find audiobooks, you need no login or membership. Find an audiobook you like and click download.

There is no timeframe of how long the audobook access is free or how long you have to use it. All this makes LibriVox a good starting point for a new audiobook user with a hearing aid. Classical literature is particuarly well spoken and narrated clearly, many of the audiobooks are more about what is being said than providing an ambience and theatrical story. There are even a number of poetry books to choose from.

https://librivox.org/

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