What’s a cyborg? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
These technologies typically add to the human condition. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to follow along 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 neglected. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
Those are all fair questions!
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are many types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here’s what you need to know: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
Essentially, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that rely on amplification.
- Spots that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, you need two components: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Education situations, such as classrooms or conferences.
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a loud environment.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- When you’re listening to one primary person speaking.
- Inside settings. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. So this type of technology works best in indoor settings.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in numerous different styles and types, which could make them a challenging possible option.
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
Amplified phones are an option. 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:
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking lights to get your attention. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office needs your attention.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- When in the office or at home.
- Individuals who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- People with total or near total hearing loss.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put in front of each other is not pleasant. This is basically what occurs when you hold a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to bypass 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:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- People who use the phone often.
- Individuals who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media today. You will find captions just about everywhere! 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 follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The advantages 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.
Clearly, every person won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for example. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you start customizing 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.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!