What’s a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But the truth is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
The human condition is usually enhanced with these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg in the world 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 disadvantages.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is due to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and buy one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy 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 behind an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: people who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in places with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Venues that tend to have a lot of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
An FM hearing assistance system works a lot like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are required for this kind of system to function. Here are a few situations where an FM system will be useful:
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Education environments, such as classrooms or conferences.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Inside settings. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. So this type of technology works best in indoor spaces.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very slight hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the situation, these phones let you control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. This means even if you aren’t wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office requires your attention.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When in the office or at home.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Individuals who periodically take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break sometimes).
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what happens when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who talk on the phone often.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize 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.
For individuals with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to those with hearing loss.
Clearly, every individual won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not require an amplifying phone, for example. 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 grandkids.
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!