Do you know what a cyborg is? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly used to touch on the human condition). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
The human condition is usually enhanced using these technologies. Which means, if you’re using an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. It’s even more challenging to understand 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 impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Usually, 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 treating hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to understand: areas with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
- Spots that tend to have a lot of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Locations that tend to be loud (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 (normally 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 helpful:
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- 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.
There are similarities between an infrared system and 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:
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. Bright sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in inside spaces.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in a few different types and styles, which might make them a challenging possible option.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- Your essentially 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.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little 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 need, depending on the situation. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- People who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations on the phone.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office needs your consideration.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- People with total or near total hearing loss.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- Home and office spaces.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put in front of each other is not pleasant. This is essentially what happens when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re great for:
- People who talk on the phone frequently.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
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 little easier to understand.
For people who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if it’s mumbled.
What are the benefits 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.
Obviously, every person won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. For example, 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 possibilities. You can customize the kind of incredible 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 understand the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!