Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly outlandish.
But actually, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
These technologies typically add to the human condition. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss certainly comes with some negatives.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even harder to make out what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no clue what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s because of hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, 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 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 confront?
These questions are all standard.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds really complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: places with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are useful for:
- Anybody 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.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in indoor settings.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally made of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers may seem like a tricky option since they come in several styles and types.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- These devices are good for individuals who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with each other. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. 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. These devices are good for:
- People who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- People who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. 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 alert when something around your home or office requires your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- People who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- Home and office spaces.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Situations where lack of attention could be dangerous (for instance, when a smoke alarm goes off).
So the connection (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 basically what happens when you hold a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who use the phone frequently.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
When you’re dealing with hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be advantageous to those who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
But you have options and that’s really the point. After you begin personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movie theater or the 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!