What’s a cyborg? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But actually, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies typically add to the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest type of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some negatives.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. 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 affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I confront?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Mostly, we’re used to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s logical, as hearing aids are a vital part of managing hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds really complex. Here are the basics: locations with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
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 noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Locations with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
An FM hearing assistance system works much 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. FM systems are great for:
- An occasion where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Education environments, like classrooms or conferences.
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in indoor spaces.
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less powerful 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 come in a few different types and styles, which may make them a challenging possible solution.
- These devices are good for people who have very slight hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the situation, 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 their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. So when something around your workplace or home needs your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- People who periodically remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be hazardous (for instance, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- When in the office or at home.
- Those with total or near total hearing loss.
So the link (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing occurs.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. 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 good for:
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if it’s mumbled.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So, now your greatest question might be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Obviously, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. 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 choices. After you begin personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!