The Hearing Aids for Music (HAFM) project explored how hearing impairments and the use of hearing aid technology affects people’s music experiences through a series of clinic surveys, an interview study and a national online survey.
It was an interdisciplinary project led by a small team and supported by an advisory board who are leaders in a range of disciplines including music psychology, clinical audiology, computer science, auditory perception, deaf education, and hearing therapy.
The HAFM team obtained a large amount of original empirical data from > 1,500 hearing aid users and > 100 audiology practitioners across the UK and internationally, and have worked with > 35 National Health Service (NHS) Trusts. The project has been pioneering in its accessibility – all studies have been accessible for deaf people with British Sign Language as first language.
Project findings have shown that whilst hearing aids facilitate musical appreciation, there are challenges in musical settings such as distortion, difficulties hearing words in songs, and difficulties in live performance contexts.
To improve music listening, our research has identified behavioural strategies for hearing aid users and musicians (e.g. listening practice, the use of music programs, assistive listening devices) and practice-based strategies for audiologists (e.g. counselling tips, fitting hearing aids in clinic, tools to aid discussion). We have developed advice leaflets for hearing aid users and audiologists which outline these strategies, and which are freely available above and on our resources page.