Do you know what a cyborg is? You likely 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 depicted with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
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 a biological process.
The human condition is usually enhanced using these technologies. 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 certainly comes with some disadvantages.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. 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 due to hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, there are many 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?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). 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.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
- Venues that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
An FM hearing assistance system works a lot like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to function. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Education environments, such as classrooms or conferences.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor settings. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside settings are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- Situations where there is one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally made of a speaker and a microphone. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky solution since they come in various styles and types.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control the volume of the speaker. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home needs your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- When in the office or at home.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Individuals with total or near total hearing loss.
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it causes feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what occurs when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
For people with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand 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.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Obviously, every individual won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may 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.
The point is that you have options. 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 hear the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!