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 (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human experience is usually enhanced using these technologies. 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.
Drawbacks of hearing loss
There are absolutely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even harder to understand 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 it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. 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! You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all fair questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: places with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud settings.
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are required for this kind of system to function. Here are some situations where an FM system will be helpful:
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Anyone who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. As a result, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Situations where there is one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. 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 styles and types, which may make them a confusing possible solution.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- For individuals who only require amplification in specific situations or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a practical option.
Hearing aids and phones often have difficulty with one another. Sometimes there’s 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 give you control over the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you want, depending on the situation. These devices are good for:
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Individuals who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or sometimes 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 an excellent option for:
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- People who have total or near total hearing loss.
- When in the office or at home.
- Individuals who periodically remove their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you hold a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. 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:
- Individuals who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.
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 it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be advantageous to people with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every individual. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might 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 options and that’s really the point. After you start 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 grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!