Do you know what a cyborg is? If your mind gets 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 used to comment on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely outlandish.
But actually, somebody wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
These technologies typically enhance the human experience. Which means, if you’re using 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.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is due to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. 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”. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
Those are all fair questions!
Mostly, we’re used to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: areas with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help people with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, 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 great for:
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a loud environment.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It’s composed 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 great for:
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often effected by strong sunlight. Because of this, inside venues are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- Individuals who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- When you’re listening to one primary person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a few different types and styles, which may make them a challenging possible solution.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very slight hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- For best outcomes, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
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 need, depending on the situation. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
- Individuals who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
- Individuals who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. 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 attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- People with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Home and office settings.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what occurs when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
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:
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Anybody who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize 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 who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if it’s mumbled.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Clearly, every person won’t be benefited by every type of technology. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. A telecoil might not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
The point is that you have choices. You can personalize the type of amazing 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. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!