Chances are, if you've heard your own voice in a recording, it's much different than what you hear when you speak aloud. For people with hearing aids, this effect is amplified every time they speak. This can be disorienting, uncomfortable, and even upsetting for some people. They may feel dissatisfied with their own voice and avoid speaking because of it. For some hearing aid wearers, this effect is so intense that they avoid using hearing aids entirely.
That begs the question: what is it about hearing our voices aloud that makes us so uncomfortable?
Why Do We Dislike Our Own Voices?
When we speak, our vocal chords produce vibrations. These vibrations carry words, phrases, and sounds to other people. This is basic communication, and almost everyone can speak at least one language. However, our voices change tone depending on where they're being heard. While others might be familiar with your voice as it is, you may be shocked or upset at the way you sound. People with hearing aids experience this on a more intense level, as they hear themselves quite differently.
To ourselves, our voices sound 'normal'. This is because we are listening to our own voices through bone conduction, which makes our own voices sound richer and lower than they actually are. To others, they only hear what exits our throat and mouth. However, this doesn't mean you have an unattractive voice! Where you have grown used to hearing your voice a certain way, others have too. So, when you hear it aloud, the sound might bother you because it's different. This doesn't mean your voice is worse when heard aloud, it's just unfamiliar.
How This Affects People With Hearing Aids
People with hearing loss rely heavily on the sound of their own voice in their head. Where people with a full range of hearing can hear some aspects of their 'actual' voice, hard-of-hearing people might be unable to. So, when they use hearing aids, they are suddenly exposed to a completely different voice. This leads to dissatisfaction and self-consciousness.
Hearing aid wearers are often in two minds: On the one hand, they are happy to be able to hear what other people are saying and the sounds of their surroundings better than before. On the other hand, they are disappointed because their own voice suddenly seems strange, often loud, and at any rate unnatural.
The voice is a fundamental component of our identity: The sound of our spoken words accompanies us from early childhood. Therefore, many hard of hearing people complain of a degree of losing their identity when they use conventional hearing aids: their own voice can sound unfamiliar.
How OVP (Own Voice Processing) Helps
To solve this challenge, Signia developed OVP (Own Voice Processing) software for many of its hearing aids. They feature a special algorithm that separates the hearing aid wearer’s voice and processes it differently than the sounds around them. A high-performance chip and state-of-the-art microphones enable wearers to hear at a remarkably higher level and preserve the familiar sound of their own voice so they enjoy all the sounds of life in their full richness and clarity.
Many people who were uncomfortable before no longer feel embarrassed by the sound of their own voice, and others have found it easy to get accustomed to. Everyone deserves the opportunity to speak freely, and Signia is making sure that hearing aid wearers feel comfortable doing so.