Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is often cleverly portrayed with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But actually, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss disadvantages
Hearing loss certainly comes with some negatives.
When you go to the movies, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. It’s even more challenging to make out 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 this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be managed 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 purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I deal with?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a rather 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 type of assistive hearing device. And, used properly, 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, use technology that sounds really complex. Here are the basics: areas with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Essentially, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Locations that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, you need two components: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some instances where IR systems can be helpful:
- People who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Indoor environments. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. Consequently, inside settings are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in a few different styles and types, which could make them a confusing possible solution.
- For individuals who only require amplification in certain circumstances or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. These devices give you control over the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you need, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
- People who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- Households where the phone is used by numerous people.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For instance, 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 aware of it.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Individuals who periodically remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- When in the office or at home.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are put in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
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:
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.
- People who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get 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 example, you might 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 might be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. You can personalize the type of amazing cyborg you want to be (and you will be amazing, we promise)–so that you can get the most out of life. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!