iPhone, hearing aids, and HSA accounts

Alright, I feel left out; I need an iPhone blog entry. <img src="http://gregg.berkholtz.net/blog/templates/default/img/emoticons/smile.png" alt=":-)" style="display: inline; vertical-align: bottom;" class="emoticon" /><br /><br />First, I'm selling my 8GB iPod Nano; it's about 4 months old, and still looks and works great, but it's now redundant. I'll part with it for $175 (OBO), if you're interested, email me: berkholtzNO-UCEgmail.com    replace the NO-UCE with an @<br /><br />While checking out the iPhone, I discovered two things, which of-course finally pushed me to grab one:<br />1) The iPhone is, by far, the best mobile phone for hearing aid and cochlear implant users.<br />2) Using a DAI cable is tricky, but doable, and well worth it.<br /><br /><br />While reading this, keep in mind that most hearing aid and cochlear implant users simply cannot use the headsets, earbuds, and/or hands-free kits available (or even included) with today's portable electronic devices. Largely because the included headsets/earbuds/hands-free kits are simply not compatible, extremely uncomfortable, or are simply ineffective (ie: not loud enough without hearing aids amplifying sound as well). Instead we're forced to purchase expensive Direct Audio Input (DAI) equipment just for "basic" functionality that regular-hearing folks take for granted.<br /><br />Speaking of costs though, there is a possible way to offset it; see my HSA comment at the bottom of this posting.<br /><br />To elaborate on the iPhone... When a call comes in, and you have a "headset" connected, the audio is routed into the headset instead of the phone's built-in speakers. For DAI users, that means a DAI audio feed from your cell! The iPhone still uses its built-in mic, but everyone I've talked to can hear me fine even with the phone at chest-level or resting on a table. For DAI users, that means we finally get a hands-free "kit" that works great with our hearing aids and cochlear implants; I don't know of any other phone on the market that does this (I had to hack a cable together for my last phone).<br /><br />As for using an DAI cable. The Connevans attenuated stereo DAI cable doesn't work too well, though Hearing Loss Help Co's unattenuated stereo DAI cable works great with a slight modification. The modification is not actually necessary, see below for the modification details. See my <a href="http://erth64net.blogspot.com/2007/05/stereo-dia-hearing-aid-cables.html">May 6th</a> entry for more details on these cables, including sources and a review.<br /><br /><br />As for the headset jack modification. It's now a well-known fact that the iPhone headset jack is recessed, largely to reduce the strain on the headset plug. Though the jack is so recessed, it has the side-effect of:<br />1) Requiring an <a href="http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9735818-1.html">adapter</a> (which I hate hauling around/losing)<br />2) Forcing you to use an "iPod" headset (which simply doesn't work for me - given my profound hearing loss, it simply cannot get loud enough).<br />3) Encouraging me to modify the headset plug on my DAI cable.<br /><br />I obviously choose option three, as the other two are simply not options for me. I use a "Hearing Loss Help Co's unattenuated stereo DAI <a href="http://www.hearing-loss-help-co.com/2398.html">cable</a>", but at first it would not fit into the iPhone. The solution is simple; cut off the excess material, and it fits great. I had to cut off roughly between 1.5mm to 1.75mm. These cables are so well-engineered, that there was no negative effect to cutting the excess material off; its still as sturdy as before, and works just as well.<br /><br /><a  onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}"  rel="lightbox" href="http://bp2.blogger.com/_rkVPBYCzJno/Roqvj4KrpqI/AAAAAAAAAAw/uhjDqJtnsOM/s1600-h/IMG_0004.JPG"><img style="cursor: pointer; width: 180px; height: 122px;" src="http://bp2.blogger.com/_rkVPBYCzJno/Roqvj4KrpqI/AAAAAAAAAAw/uhjDqJtnsOM/s320/IMG_0004.JPG" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5083068160348497570" border="0"  /></a><br />Sorry for the poor picture, I'll post a better one tonight.<br /><br />As for HSA account holders:<br />The standard disclaimer applies; this is not legal advice, do your own research, and consult with your own legal sources before proceeding. Though as for me; my HR rep, and my reading of the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf">IRS publication 502</a> rules both tell me that some hearing aid accessories can be legally charged to your HSA account. Accessories such as the ELI Bluetooth adapter, and DAI cables that one uses for connecting to a TV, or phone, are possible examples. See page 13 under the sections "Telephone" and "Television" of the IRS 502 rules for details. This effectively means we can purchase our hearing aid accessories with pre-tax dollars (well, those of us in the USA). Personally, I paid ~$132 for my DAI setup (two audio boots - one for each hearing aid, and one "Y" DAI cable). The HSA account usage is a nice way to offset that high cost of "basic" functionality that regular-hearing folks take for granted.