Do you know what a cyborg is? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is often cleverly portrayed with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But in reality, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
These technologies typically enhance the human condition. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some negatives.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. It’s even harder 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 the result of hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. This is where technology comes in.
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? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all fair questions!
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
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). This is what you need to know: areas with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help people with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
- Settings that tend to be noisy (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
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 required for this kind of system to work. FM systems are useful for:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Education environments, such as classrooms or conferences.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be helpful:
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Indoor environments. Bright sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. As a result, indoor venues are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a few different types and styles, which could make them a confusing possible option.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. 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 need, depending on the situation. These devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
- Individuals who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
- People who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available 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 blinking lights to get your attention. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office needs your consideration.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Home and office settings.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. You will be capable of hearing all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who use the phone often.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. 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 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.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be advantageous to those who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every individual. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not require an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
The point is that you have options. You can personalize the kind of amazing cyborg you want to be (and you will be amazing, we promise)–so that you can get the most out of life. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!