Do you know what a cyborg is? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are typically cleverly used to touch on the human condition). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the truth is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
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 type of cyborg in the world. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss drawbacks
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is due to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. 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 rather technical, right? 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?
These questions are all normal.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, 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 kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in places with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Venues that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are required for this type of system to work. Here are a few situations where an FM system will be helpful:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a noisy environment.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- 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. You have an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Scenarios where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Inside settings. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. Because of this, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing solution since they come in various styles and types.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. 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:
- Individuals who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking lights to get your attention. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office needs your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Home and office spaces.
- Individuals who periodically remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it causes feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what occurs when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re good for:
- People who have hearing aids.
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who use the phone often.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be advantageous to those who have hearing loss.
Obviously, every person won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not require an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil might not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
The point is that you have options. After you begin customizing 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 grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!