What’s 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 depicted with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But in reality, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
The human experience is usually enhanced with these technologies. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Drawbacks of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
It’s hard to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even more challenging to understand what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no idea what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s because of hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas 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 beneficial:
- Venues that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two elements: a transmitter (normally 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 helpful:
- 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).
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Civil and governmental environments (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
An infrared system is similar to 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 examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- Indoor settings. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. Consequently, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- Scenarios where there is one primary speaker at a time.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing option since they come in various styles and types.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- These devices are good for people who have very slight hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. The sound can become 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 want, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by numerous people.
- When someone has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
- Individuals who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. 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 an excellent solution for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When in the office or at home.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you hold a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- People who use the phone often.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The rewards 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 worthwhile to those with hearing loss.
Obviously, every person won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not need an amplifying phone, for instance. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind 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 understand the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!