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Hofstra Professor Helps Develop Sabbath Friendly Hearing Aid


Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY - Orthodox Jews who wear high end, multi-program hearing aids often disable their devices’ most helpful features on the Jewish Sabbath, because they are concerned about inadvertently depressing a program button when they are inserting the instrument. Hofstra University Professor of Audiology Dr. Levi A. Reiter and Persona Medical Inc. have recently developed the new “EMET” hearing aid, which circumvents the problem of activating buttons or switches on the Sabbath, making it the world’s most Sabbath-friendly hearing aid.

According to Jewish Law, operating electronic switching mechanisms may violate one of the principles of Sabbath observance. Orthodox Jews often choose to have their audiologist program the instrument’s software to disable the multi-program option. These multi-program features are designed to increase ease of listening in various sound environments, e.g., restaurants, music venues, traffic noise, etc. While this solves the Sabbath problem, it also denies the wearer access to program selection during the week when it could be very useful.

The new EMET hearing aid, inscribed with the Hebrew font as אמת meaning “true” (as in true sound), enables a hearing aid wearer to activate the multi-program option. Therefore, during the week the wearer has full access to any one of four listening programs. Before the Sabbath arrives the wearer can select the listening program he/she prefers for the day. The chosen program cannot be altered inadvertently. Once the Sabbath is over, the wearer can again assume full access to a wide range of listening settings.

Dr. Reiter says, “Fortunately we have been able to apply the EMET concept to all known hearing aid types, including the tiny custom, ‘deep canal’ fittings, the full range of ‘in-the-ear’ sizes, and the ‘behind-the-ear series, including ‘slim-tube open ear fittings, ‘receiver-in-canal’ instruments, and powerful behind-the-ear hearing aids.”

Dr. Reiter first made news in 2006 when he composed a rap song for Hofstra’s freshman orientation, titled, “Say Whut?,” explaining the importance of the field of audiology. For this, the grandfather of 26 received the admiration of his students as well as the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), which adapted it for its recruitment efforts.

In 2008 Dr. Reiter was again in the news for his diagnosis of an Ear-Kiss Syndrome, which was subsequently named “Reiter’s Ear-Kiss Syndrome”(REKS). One of his patients, a young mother, suffered permanent hearing loss when her toddler daughter gave her a strong kiss on the ear. Dr. Reiter’s research found this condition is much more common than previously thought, and he started a campaign to get people to be more mindful of any shows of affection near the sensitive ear area. His work in this area has also made audiologists more mindful of this condition and its causes.

About Hofstra University
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution of higher education where more than 12,000 full and part-time students choose from undergraduate and graduate offerings in liberal arts and sciences, business, engineering, communication, education, health and human services, honors studies, a School of Law and the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

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