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Enthusiastic article about a Bluetooth Neck Loop by a journalist at "One in Seven", the magazine for the deaf.

The Phonak iCom Bluetooth neckloop £150

Phonak Bluetooth Neck Loop

My pesky editor at One in Seven keeps asking me when my piece will be ready. 1 can't tell her as I'm just too busy - making telephone calls, listening to music on my iPod, watching the TV without subtitles, and using my computer the way it's supposed to be used.

How can this be? I'm severely/profoundly deaf, I haven't been able to hear the TV for 20 years, not made phone calls for 15 and never used an iPod, ever.

It's all come about through technology. I got an iCom, a new device that I wear around my neck that connects wirelessly to my hearing aids and which can transmit sounds from a variety of electronic devices almost straight into my head. (Other listeners are available! Contact RNID Products - see pages 46-47 - for details).

It took only 20 seconds to set up the connection to my mobile phone to the iCom via Bluetooth. I spent ten times as long searching for my glasses so I could read the instructions on the phone's screen.

But it took a lot longer to get myself psychologically ready to make a call. The momentous moment came as I telephoned my wife from the living room, to the kitchen where she was, and made contact!

My second call was more experimental-Driving along the M50 to a comedy gig in South Wales, I tried making a hands-free call. Bingo! I was speaking to my children and could hear in their voices a certain incredulity that, even though I was out, I still had the power to contact them and tell them to stop giving their

mother a hard time. I talked until Monmouth, astonished that, despite driving through a steep Welsh valley, I was connected. Since then, I've called a few friends, two of whom rejected the call, thinking I must have sat on my phone by mistake.

I've also realised that YouTube clips are meant to be heard as well as seen. I've listened to the radio, heard phone-ins - though don't imagine that I'd call myself, mostly because people talk such rubbish. At least now I know what rubbish.

I can hear the TV and don't need subtitles. I can hear the pointless backing music most programmes come with. Masterchef seemed to have bagpipes playing at one point. It nearly put me off my Monster Munch. In fact, this hearing experience is a bit hard to take. My brain has become used to not hearing or making phone calls, or listening to bagpipes. Music makes me cry, stupidly, for the years since I last heard it. Sometimes the listener picks up TV the kids are watching. I was outside cleaning my car when Hannah Montana came blasting into my brain. So it's not all good. The new listener costs money, but for a reason to avoid your editor asking why you haven't submitted your article yet, it's worth every penny.

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