Do you know what a cyborg is? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (the human condition is often cleverly depicted with these characters). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
These technologies typically enhance the human condition. Which means, if you’re using an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are absolutely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to keep up with the plot. 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 because of hearing loss). And this can affect your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and buy one of these devices? What challenges will I deal with?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly utilize these devices.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
Essentially, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Spots that tend to have a lot of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Locations that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Inside environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. As a result, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky option since they come in various styles and types.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
- These devices are good for people who have very mild hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. So when something around your workplace or home requires your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Home and office settings.
- Individuals who periodically take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
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). When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. 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:
- People who have hearing aids.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media nowadays. Everyone 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 ensuring you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you start 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 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!