Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly outlandish.
But in reality, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
These technologies usually enhance the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss disadvantages
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to keep up with the plot. 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 it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing 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 get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I face?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of treating hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind 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?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to understand: people who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations 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. Induction loops are good for:
- Settings that tend to be noisy (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are required for this kind of system to function. Here are some scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a loud environment.
- Education environments, including classrooms or conferences.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
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 usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- When you’re listening to one primary person speaking.
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor settings. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. As a result, indoor venues are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
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 sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky solution since they come in numerous styles and types.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to further damage your hearing.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have difficulty with each other. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
One solution 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 want, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Families where the phone is used by multiple people.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. 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:
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
- Anybody whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Home and office spaces.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
Once again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what occurs when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re good for:
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- People who talk on the phone frequently.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people with 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 if it’s mumbled.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy 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. 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. You can customize the kind of incredible cyborg you want to be (and you will be amazing, we promise)–so that you can get the most out of life. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!