What’s a cyborg? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is often cleverly portrayed with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly outlandish.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
These technologies typically add to the human experience. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg in the world. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
Left unchecked, the world can become pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
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 might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and buy one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
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 managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are many kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. This is what you need to know: places with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help those 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 a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
- Venues that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to function. FM systems are useful for:
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- Indoor environments. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. As a result, inside venues are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Scenarios where there is one main speaker at a time.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. 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 tricky solution since they come in several styles and types.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- For individuals who only require amplification in certain 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 further damage your hearing.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have difficulty with each other. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One solution 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 want, depending on the situation. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- When someone has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
- Households where the phone is used by multiple people.
- 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 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 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:
- Situations where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Home and office spaces.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what happens when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
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:
- Anybody who regularly talks on the phone.
- Individuals who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- People who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have 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.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I get assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
Obviously, every person won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. 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. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in certain situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!