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The Hearing Aids for Music (HAFM) project has explored how hearing impairments and the use of hearing aid technology affect people’s music experiences through a series of clinic surveys, an interview study and a national online survey.

It is an interdisciplinary project led by a small team and supported by an advisory board who are leaders in a range of disciplines including music psychology, clinical audiology, computer science, auditory perception, deaf education, and hearing therapy.

The HAFM team has obtained a large amount of original empirical data from > 1,300 hearing aid users and > 100 audiology practitioners across the UK and internationally, and have worked with > 35 NHS Trusts. The project has been pioneering in its accessibility – all studies have been accessible for deaf people with British Sign Language as first language.

Project findings have shown that whilst hearing aids facilitate musical appreciation, there are challenges in musical settings such as distortion, difficulties hearing words in songs, and difficulties in live performance contexts.

To improve music listening, our research has identified behavioural strategies for hearing aid users and musicians (e.g. listening practice, the use of music programs, assistive listening devices) and practice-based strategies for audiologists (e.g. fitting hearing aids in clinic, tools to aid discussion). We are also developing advice leaflets for hearing aid users and audiologists, which are freely available on our resources page.

In 2017, we held a conference to bring together hearing aid users, researchers, audiologists and manufacturers to examine current issues and potential solutions in the perception of music through hearing aids. Materials from the conference (including abstracts, presentation slides and 10 fully captioned videos) can be found here.

We hope to raise awareness of the project via the twitter feed @musicndeafness and this website. If you would like to get in touch for any reason, please do email us on musicandhearingaids@leeds.ac.uk.

Marshall Chasin presenting at HAFM International Conference, 2017
Marshall Chasin presenting at HAFM International Conference, 2017

Music is an important part of peoples’ lives and can have powerful physical, social, intellectual and emotional effects on individuals – even for those with mild, moderate, severe or even profound D/deafness.

There are currently 11 million people with some level of deafness in the UK. This represents one in six of the population and the figure is set to rise dramatically to 15.6 million by 2031.

Hearing Aids for Music is a research project that explores how hearing aid technology enables and affects the perception of music.

Modern hearing aid technology is designed to amplify speech, helping verbal communication. We want to find out about how the use of hearing aid technology affects the way we listen to, and engage with music in our everyday lives.

For updates about the project and other posts about music performance and deafness, please follow us on twitter at @musicndeafness