Voice amplification is an important tool to support communication. Voice or speech amplifiers can be used by people with voice disorders or acquired communication difficulties as a result of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
At a recent ComTEC speech pathology meeting, we tried out some of the voice amplifiers and microphones in our library. We found that when choosing the right amplification system issues of comfort and safety were to be considered alongside increasing a person’s loudness.
When trying out microphones, it’s important to think about how the person requiring voice amplification might be positioned, or how they move. It may be unsafe for them to have a microphone that has a cord around their head or neck. In these circumstances, a lapel mic or a wireless headset may be a good option.
EchoVoice EV7 Speech Amplifier
A transdermal mic is a specialised mic that sits at throat level and is designed to pick up speech from the area of the oesophagus. We thought it would be good for clients with significantly reduced volume and a very breathy voice. We noted that it would more comfortably fit a person with a wider neck so may be too large for people with a small frame or younger people. It did feel a bit strange to wear something around the neck, but it could also be an option for a person who didn’t like things around their head.
When we tested the EchoVoice EV7 with the head mic we found it had great sound and no feedback on full volume which was impressive. We found that because it is such a sensitive device it had some feedback with the collar mic, the unilateral mic and the lapel mic but less so than other devices.
Winbridge S278 with Bluetooth
The Winbridge S278 with Bluetooth option also stood out for us as it also had great volume using a Bluetooth headset mic. The speaker can be used as an amplifier in another room which means that it could be used as a kind of intercom system where the person can ‘call out’ for assistance. This device worked well with a unilateral mic plugged directly into the voice amplifier, but the sound was not as good and we couldn't have it at full volume.
Spokeman Voice Amplifier
The Spokeman Voice Amplifier is quite a small unit but it had great volume when it is used with a headset. The volume was so loud that you don’t need to turn it up to the full volume. When we tried it with a Chattervox collar mic there was a lot of feedback but it worked well with a KEC (brand name) collar mic.
A team approach
Implementing the use of a voice amplifier takes a team approach. Consider when and where a person might use it in their daily routine. Whilst a Bluetooth option provides great functionality, it can be a barrier to support partners who are less technologically savvy. Who will charge the device and make sure it is easily accessed? Finding the right voice amplifier is often a matter of trial an error so it’s worth exploring a range of options in a number of environments to find the best fit.
Contact ComTEC to explore our range of voice amplifiers available to loan. You can hire a number of voice amplifiers in a kit so that you can try the different options.