Using Voice Aids In Your Daily Life

by Bethany
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The spoken word is the bedrock of much of our communication. Without it, we lose critical information that helps us to empathize with and understand others. That’s why, when your voice begins to falter for once reason or another, it’s important to find ways to restore what has been lost to allow you to communicate as normally as possible. In the same vein, those whose voices aren’t damaged, but who regularly use their voice, whether for work or recreation, need to do all they can to protect their voice, so that they never have to deal with the life-altering realities of having their voice diminished or lost.

Using Voice Aids In Your Daily Life

Fortunately, in all of these situations, there are options available to augment and assist the human voice. Through the application of technology, these devices, known as “voice aids,” “speech aids,” or simply “speech amplifiers,” are revolutionizing what the human voice can do, and allowing even those with no voice at all to still be able to communicate. Not only that, but they continue to develop to sound more natural, not to mention being more portable and easy-to-use. Combined, this means that there are voice aids available for every situation, for every type of person, and for every budget.

What Are Voice Aids?

Voice aids refer to any one of a number of devices that allow the augmentation or creation of voice that is audible to others. In the case of someone who has had their larynx removed, thus making speech impossible, it allows the movement of air to the mouth to result in speech which can be understood by others. In the case of those who simply have a weak voice, either due to age or illness, a voice aid receives the normal spoken word of an individual and amplifies it so that it’s loud enough to be able to be heard by others. In either case, a voice aid provides a critical communications link for those whose voices have become weak due to illness, age, disease, or overuse.

In the case of an individual who has had their larynx removed, using a voice aid involves the placement in the tracheal stoma of a device that allows air to be diverted from the stoma and up to the mouth, thus resulting in audible speech. This device, officially called a tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis, is placed after the larynx is removed. For those who retain the ability to speak and only need amplitude assistance, the device is much less invasive, consisting of a unit with a small microphone and a speaker that amplifies the spoken audio.

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How Do Voice Aids Work?

For any type of non-invasive voice aids, their operation is exactly the same as a larger sound system like you would find in an auditorium or arena. Sound from the person’s mouth is picked up by a microphone. That microphone then converts that sound into electronic energy that is then sent through wires to a speaker. This current causes the diaphragm in the speaker to vibrate, which moves the air molecules around the speaker, resulting in sound waves that can then be received and understood by human ears. Turning the sound up results in less resistance in the path from the microphone to the speaker, resulting in larger sound waves and louder sound. In the case of implanted voice aids, the process is much the same, though the amount of sound coming out will be much lower, so the device needs to account for tonal qualities that are lost as a result of the low amplitude.

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Who Needs Voice Aids?

Voice aids, contrary to popular belief, are not just for those who have lost the ability to speak due to diseases resulting from smoking. Anyone’s voice can weaken over time, as the body struggles to push enough air through the larynx to make sound that is loud enough to be easily heard by others, making seniors an ideal candidate for voice aids. Plus, those who suffer regularly from voice-weakening illnesses can greatly benefit from a voice aid, as well. In addition, individuals suffering from various speech impediments and other speech problems will notice a greatly-increased understanding by their listeners by employing a voice aid. Not to mention, anyone who works in an industry where they are constantly putting a lot of demand on their voice, for example as a tour guide, will benefit from the voice augmenting capabilities of a voice aid.

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New vs. Used Voice Aids

When considering what type of voice aid to buy, cost will certainly be a determining factor. One way to save some money upfront is to consider a used voice aid unit. It’s important to consider the previous application of the voice aid unit, however, before deciding whether or not to purchase a used model. Since speaking devices are frequently in close proximity to a person’s mouth, and all the germs that go along with that location, you want to be sure that the previous user had no communicable diseases, and that the unit has been cleaned and disinfected thoroughly by the reseller. One of a new unit’s main advantages is that you don’t have to worry about any sort of cross-contamination, though you should consider any other benefits a new unit may offer besides this one factor before making your final decision.

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Average Cost of Voice Aids

The price of a voice aid can range from less than $100 to several hundred, or even over $1,000. Typically, the more expensive units are made for individuals who have had their larynx entirely removed, as they have special controls to allow tonal adjustments, ensuring a more natural-sounding voice. A big factor in the price of other units is the size of the unit. Many people prefer to have a smaller, more discrete unit, especially for everyday use, but you also must ensure that you select a unit that is designed for great sound quality, which may end up being somewhat more expensive. If you plan on using your unit to augment your voice in a crowd-type setting, consider selecting a unit you can operate hands-free to ensure you are able to assist with other aspects of your position, as needed.

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Where to Purchase Voice Aids

Voice aids can be purchased from a variety of online and brick-and-mortar establishments. For a voice aid with a more medically-necessary focus, you can consult with your doctor on where to purchase your voice aid. These voice aids can often be obtained from medical supply stores where, in some cases, you may be able to utilize your insurance to help offset the cost of the unit. Do your research on the merchant you choose to purchase your voice aid from, especially if you are selecting a used unit. Solid reviews will give you some assurance that the unit you purchase has been properly cleaned, sanitized, and tested before it’s shipped to you. Beyond that, the large number of vendors online allows you to price compare units to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.

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Benefits of Using a Voice Aid

Everyone has something important to say, even those whose voices have been weakened for one reason or another. A voice aid allows these individuals to once again be fully heard and appreciated for the important contributions they have to offer. In addition, voice aids possess a major safety benefit, ensuring that in an emergency, an individual with a weak voice will still be able to warn others of danger, or call out for help if they themselves are in danger. The sense of belonging and inclusion that will return as a result of being heard is perhaps the most indelible benefit, however. The idea of contributing to conversations without having to strain or shout is more than enough for most people to begin considering one of these valuable tools.