What’s a cyborg? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly used to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely outlandish.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. So, 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 part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. 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 the result of hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology has a role to play.
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 a bit technical! The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
These questions are all standard.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly utilize these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
Essentially, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Venues that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that depend on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, you need two components: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- Education environments, such as classrooms or conferences.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a loud environment.
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- 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).
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Indoor environments. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this kind of technology works best in inside settings.
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. In general, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing solution since they come in several styles and types.
- These devices are good for people who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
Hearing aids and phones often have difficulty with each other. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option 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:
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use 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. So when something around your workplace or home needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Individuals who periodically take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
- Individuals who have total or near total hearing loss.
- When in the office or at home.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put in front of each other is not pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Anybody who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
For people with 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.
What are the benefits 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 advantages of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
The point is that you have possibilities. You can personalize 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. 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 some situations but not all. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!