Do you know what a cyborg is? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you love science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely outlandish.
But the truth is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
These technologies usually add to the human condition. Which means, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss disadvantages
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
It’s hard to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even harder to make out what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no idea what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s because of hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I face?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly utilize these devices.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: areas with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help people with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Locations with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Venues that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that rely on amplification.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
- Anybody who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some instances where IR systems can be helpful:
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
- Inside settings. Bright sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. Consequently, indoor settings are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in a few different types and styles, which could make them a confusing possible option.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- These devices are good for individuals who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control the volume of the speaker. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
- People who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. So when something around your workplace or home requires your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- When in the office or at home.
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
- People with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you put a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Individuals who talk on the phone often.
- Individuals who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
These days, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if it’s mumbled.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question might be: where can I get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to those who have hearing loss.
Obviously, every person won’t get the benefit of every kind of technology. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. A telecoil might not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
But you have options and that’s really the point. You can personalize the type of amazing cyborg you want to be (and you will be amazing, we promise)–so that you can get the most out of life. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!