The Views & Experiences of Young People using FM Technology

Executive Summary

The Ear Foundation was commissioned by Phonak AG to conduct qualitative research into young peoples’ experiences of using FM technology with their existing hearing aids (HA) or cochlear implants (CI).  The commissioned research was carried out by a multi-disciplinary group of professionals including audiologists, speech and language therapists and teachers of the deaf based at The Ear Foundation.   

The initial method for data collection proposed was that of two focus groups of eight children in each group. One group were chosen based on their positive views of using FM technology in school and the second were those who were not keen on FM technology and had limited their use of the technology in secondary school. However, after recruiting 20 participants and balancing the participants for the two groups, limitations with the focus group method became apparent as not all young people were engaging in discussion. The researchers and professionals agreed a semi structured interview method would result in more in depth answers from this group of participants. Qualitative, semi structured interviews were conducted with each of the twenty participants to explore personal experiences and views of using FM technology and suggestions for improving the technology to meet their needs. 

From the interviews four key themes were resonant with the participants’ accounts:

  • Use of FM in educational setting
  • Consideration of personal/home use of FM
  • Difficulties associated with FM use
  • Suggested enhancements to future FM technology

The findings from the study demonstrate that the majority of young people did make use of FM technology in educational settings. However, some felt there was no need for an FM during certain lessons, for example during catering or ICT when the young people were meant to work independently. Only one participant made use of FM during P.E. and the rest of the young people felt the FM could not be used for this lesson. Home/personal use of FM technology was limited and there was very restricted appreciation of the potential for FM use outside of the school setting. The majority of participants appreciated the improved access to sound that the FM device provided. Unfortunately, many participants reported regular interference whilst using the device. Other difficulties associated with FM use were common errors committed by teachers whilst using the device and the unwanted attention teachers sometimes brought onto pupils even when trying to be helpful. The management and responsibility of the FM in secondary school settings in some cases resulted in a negative overall view of the FM device.  The young people did provide some suggestions for improvements in future FM technology. The report concludes with a number of recommendations for further professional development and awareness amongst young people on FM technology. 


You can downoad the full report here: Report for Phonak- FM use in Young People (2).pdf