Emily Martinson, AuD, PhD

In today’s world of cable TV, Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services, the options for TV watching are almost endless.  If you wanted to, and really had no life, you could watch TV 24 hours a day and never see the same thing twice. For people with hearing loss, certain types of TV shows are easier and harder to understand, even when watched on the exact same TV set.  Keep reading to learn more about hearing aids when you Netflix and chill.

By far, the easiest type of TV program to understand for people with hearing loss is the news.  Whether it’s the local news or national coverage, newscasts typically are easier to understand.  There are a few reasons for this.  Firstly, newscasters have trained voices.  They are taught how to speak clearly and how to annunciate.  Many newscasters have even been trained on how to have as little regional accent as possible.

Secondly, there is little to no background music during the news.  This makes it easier to focus on just the speaking voice. Mysteries and sit coms tend to be more difficult to understand.  Not only do they have background music, but the voices also tend to be more challenging.  Accents are common, as well as more rapid speech.  Mystery programs in particular tend to be challenging because the characters (shockingly) don’t usually project when they are confessing to murder most foul.

The most difficult television programs, however, are foreign shows.  Patients tell me all the time that British TV is hard to understand.  The Crown, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and Black Mirror have become the bane of my existence. Make sure to check with your audiologist of hearing care provider on how to maximize the amount of speech on TV that you can understand.  For many people, simply adding a TV program to your hearing aids or using a TV streamer does the trick.

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