What is 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 used to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears 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 experience is usually enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
It’s hard to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and buy one of these devices? What challenges will I confront?
Those are all fair questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely 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: locations with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Settings that tend to be noisy (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- 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. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are some situations where an FM system will be helpful:
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Inside settings. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in indoor spaces.
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. In general, 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 number of different styles and types, which could make them a confusing possible option.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only need amplification in specific situations.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. 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 want, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Home and office spaces.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
So the link (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it causes feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what occurs when you put a phone speaker up 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:
- People who use the phone often.
- People who have hearing aids.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
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.
Clearly, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you begin customizing 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 grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!