Joe Berry has always had a passion for the outdoors, nature and wildlife. He is a certified Georgia Master Naturalist and said that one of the greatest differences he’s noticed with his Ponto 3 SuperPower is the directional hearing, which helps make his photography so successful.
An introduction to hearing aids, then discovering the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System
Joe has mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear, as well as severe to profound hearing loss in his right ear. He received his first hearing aid in 2011 for his right ear, but the loss in ventilation began causing chronic ear infections. “Even while placing myself in strategic locations to keep speakers on my ‘good side’ I was still struggling at both work and home,” he says.
When speaking to his audiologist and exploring bi-cross hearing aids he worried that the sound would be unnatural since this was his experience with his original hearing aid and that he would lose what little directional hearing he had. “At my work, it’s not uncommon to be at sites that have forklifts and other equipment with audible alarms that I need to be able to locate to keep myself safe from injury. I also love my time outdoors and needed my directional hearing to preserve that enjoyment,” he explains.
As Joe began researching other options he came across the term “BAHS” or Bone Anchored Hearing System. He brought the information to his audiologist who said he might be a candidate.
“When I’m deciding if I want to try a product and which brand to go with I look for forums with stories of real-life experiences. I found forums with so many testimonials of how much better Bone Anchored Hearing Systems were and so many positive testimonials on the Ponto and how life-changing they were. I shared the information with my wife and we decided to go forward with Ponto,” he says.
They located Ear Consultants of Georgia who confirmed he was a candidate and surgery followed.
Receiving the Ponto 3 SuperPower
Joe received his first Ponto, a Ponto Pro, in 2012 and describes it as life-changing. “It was so much more natural sounding than my hearing aid. I used my Ponto almost all of my waking hours because it made life easier. I would even forget that I had it on,” he says.
After about five years, Joe discovered that his hearing loss had increased and he would need a more powerful model. After applying for a new Ponto twice, he finally received his Ponto 3 SuperPower (P3SP) in February of 2018.
A new world through photography
Joe is a certified Georgia Master Naturalist whose photos have been used by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Elachee Nature Science Center.
“Most of the wildlife that I photograph is very shy and if you have to wait until you see them to know their location they will likewise see your movement of the camera and be gone before you can get the focus. With my Ponto I can tell the direction of those animals that are vocal or ‘leaf crunchers’ and have my camera in position before we are within sight of each other. This keeps my movement and detection of my presence to a minimum and preserves more opportunities to get the image,” he explains.
Life after Ponto
Waiting to receive his P3SP was a difficult time for Joe and his family. “My wife was my greatest cheerleader during the long appeal. I was slipping back into the reclusive behavior with times of depression that I had experienced before the first Ponto. My wife said that if we had to pay the full amount she wanted me to have it, that it made all the difference in how much conversation that I had with her and other family members,” he said. Since receiving his Ponto 3 SuperPower this year, Joe’s word recognition is now at 92 %. He likens the feeling of not having his Ponto to being in a dark storm and having his Ponto 3 SuperPower to blue skies.
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