Do you know what a cyborg is? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, somebody 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 integrated into biology.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Drawbacks of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some negatives.
It’s hard to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is due to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
Left unchecked, the world can get 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 your hearing is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and purchase one of these devices? Are there challenges to using 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 a crucial part of dealing with 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 correctly use these devices.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to understand: people who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud settings.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
These FM systems are similar to 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). Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- Education situations, such as classrooms or conferences.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in inside spaces.
- When you’re listening to one primary person talking.
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 come in numerous different styles and types, which could make them a challenging possible solution.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- For individuals who only require amplification in certain circumstances or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with each other. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the situation, these phones let you control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
- People 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 principal telephone).
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something happens. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. 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:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- When in the office or at home.
- Anybody whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing occurs.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re great for:
- Individuals who talk on the phone frequently.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
These days, it has become rather 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’re dealing with 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 advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every individual. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
The point is that you have options. After you start personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!