Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly used to comment on the human condition). You can get some really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the reality is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
These technologies usually enhance the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest type of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are absolutely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is due to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are many kinds of assistive hearing devices. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds really complex. Here are the basics: locations with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Settings that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to function. Here are some scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Anyone who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Scenarios where there is one primary speaker at a time.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. As a result, inside settings are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a tricky solution since they come in various styles and types.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- For people who only require amplification in specific circumstances or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a practical choice.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with each other. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. These devices allow you to have control of the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you need, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Households where the phone is used by multiple people.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Individuals who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something happens. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office requires your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Home and office spaces.
- People who periodically take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
- People who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
So the link (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. You will be capable of hearing all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- People who talk on the phone often.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
For individuals 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 in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be advantageous to people who have hearing loss.
Clearly, every person won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. For example, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you start personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandchildren.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!