What is a cyborg? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is often 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 considered a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
These technologies usually enhance the human experience. Which means, if you’re wearing 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 end there.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss certainly comes with some negatives.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is because of the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I face?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: individuals who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in places 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. Induction loops are good for:
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Venues that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Locations that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are required for this type of system to work. Here are some scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- Education environments, 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).
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a noisy environment.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some instances where IR systems can be helpful:
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. Bright sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. So this kind of technology works best in inside settings.
- When you’re listening to one primary person talking.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing solution since they come in several styles and types.
- For people who only need amplification in specific situations or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
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. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Individuals who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations on 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 primary telephone).
When something is going on, 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 instance. 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 attention.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Home and office spaces.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- People with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. When you put a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re great for:
- People who use the phone frequently.
- People who have hearing aids.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions pretty much 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 ensuring you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to people with hearing loss.
Clearly, every person won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. A telecoil might 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 customizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily understand the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!