Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But actually, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. Which means, 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 end there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss certainly comes with some negatives.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. 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?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds really complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: individuals who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
Essentially, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Events that depend on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Settings that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are useful for:
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
- Anyone who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- Scenarios where there is one primary speaker at a time.
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor environments. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in inside settings.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a number of different types and styles, which might make them a confusing possible option.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
- For people who only need amplification in specific circumstances or have very mild 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 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 how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- People who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations on the phone.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office requires your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- Home and office settings.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Those who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection 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. You will be capable of hearing all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
When you’re dealing with 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.
The rewards 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 advantageous to people with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. 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 kind of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. 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. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!