Passing through the metal security scanner with hearing devices

Are you ever super nervous about going through security?

“I get so anxious going through security.”

When the security guard motions us to enter through the security scanner, some immediately feel tension. Many thoughts roam through our heads. Wondering if our hearing aids will be triggered with the metal as a suspicious bomb.

Perhaps, you may wonder if your cochlear implant will stop operating or if the program will change because of the metal detector.

Or even with all of our worrying and sweating, the airport experience is starting to make you look even more suspicious.

Whether you are meeting any transport authority, like the TSA (Transport Security Administration) in the US or internationally, this may be a question lingering in your mind about how these metal detectors operate. We are unsure as our body is being x-rayed to detect any threat that could or will happen.

A security scanner is much like an x-ray in a chest x-ray scan, but with a whole lot less radiation. These machines pass through our bodies, looking for some trace of metal. So, what’s the deal? Is it possible our hearing aids or cochlear implant can get noticed?

The short answer is that most hearing devices will not set off the security scanner. The main priority of this equipment is to detect explosives, drugs and weapons. Here are the reasons why:

There Isn’t enough metal

Our hearing aids are made of plastic, silicone, copper, zinc-air or lithium-ion. There are other materials, but these main elements form either the cover, the processor (which is very similar to the one in your cellphone or computer but much smaller), the microphone or the battery. The battery and processor, made mainly of metal, are tiny. Therefore have such a small trace of metal that most machines won’t pick up. That’s why you can wear your earrings, glasses, buttons, zippers, or underwire bra; the machine will not detect them. Too small of a metal is not enough to cause any concerns.

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However, most modern scanners are good at deciphering whether your device is a treat or not. Your device may get set off for older machines or airports with less fancy body scanner tech and are using the metal detector.

Like heart pacemakers, you’ll need to carry a Patient Identification Card or cochlear implant identification card explaining that you have a metal device in your body.

Better wear your CI than take them off

Now, in the case of a cochlear implant (CI), people can hear the interference of the metal detector through the cochlear implant device. But that is not enough to damage your devices. You are better off wearing your device rather than taking them off and adding them to the carry-on baggage because those security machines are much more intense and can damage the computing of your CI. It’s better to get into the habit of wearing them on and it will also help you not to lose them.

Image analysis can determine what it really is

Many high-tech body scanners use image recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) to predict weapons accurately. This software in these machines is trained with images representing firearms, razor blades, or knives. These body scanner machines seek to find and match as it scans our body and carry-on to the list of threatening items.

Until hearing aids or cochlear implants are listed as prohibited items, you have nothing to worry about.

Error rate needs to be kept low

With millions of people travelling on any given day (unless flights our grounded), millions of people are being inspected every minute of the day. Any delay or body patting check can slow the system of flights departing, arriving, and those going through security every second. There isn’t time for too much time for inaccuracy. Medical or not, devices that aren’t any threat have been added to the clearance database.

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Manufacturers behind these devices and air travel work hard to reduce inaccuracy. One minute extra on every deaf and hard of hearing person passing through security can cause a huge ripple effect of flight delays on our global flight system. Whenever an inspection personnel is attending to you, one less person is enough to slow down the system.

You need not worry about being added to the terrorist list just for wearing a hearing device to help you better communicate. So treat that security scanner as your runway and strut your stuff.

Now, if just only if there is a better way for those body scanning machines to let us know when they’re done. Because who can hear that inspection personnel telling us to leave the machine?

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