Do you know what a cyborg is? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, particularly if you love science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely bizarre.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
The human experience is usually enhanced with these technologies. Which means, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg anywhere. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandchildren is even harder (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds pretty technical, right? The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and buy one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are many kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds really complex. Here’s what you need to know: individuals who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in places with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
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:
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Locations that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that depend on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are needed for this kind of system to function. Here are a few situations where an FM system will be helpful:
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Scenarios where there is one primary speaker at a time.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor environments. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. Consequently, indoor venues are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. In general, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky option since they come in several styles and types.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- These devices are good for people who have very slight hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with each other. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
- Individuals who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
- Families where the phone is used by multiple people.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home needs your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When in the office or at home.
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. This is essentially what occurs when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Individuals who use the phone frequently.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everybody uses captions! 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 making sure 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 get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be beneficial to those who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not need an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
The point is that you have choices. You can personalize the type of incredible 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 grandchildren.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in certain situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!