What is a cyborg? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
The human condition is generally enhanced with these technologies. So, 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 part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss disadvantages
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some disadvantages.
It’s difficult to keep up with 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 the result of hearing loss). And this can affect your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
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 may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
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: individuals who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Settings that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are a few situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Anyone who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a noisy environment.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Situations where there’s one main speaker at a time.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Inside settings. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in inside spaces.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally made of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- For individuals who only need amplification in specific situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a practical choice.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
- For best outcomes, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. 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 want, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
- Families where the phone is used by multiple people.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. So when something around your workplace or home needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- People who have total or near total hearing loss.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Home and office settings.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
Once again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing occurs.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re good for:
- People who talk on the phone often.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every individual. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not require an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you begin customizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!