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 love science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly used to touch on the human condition). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the reality is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. So you’re actually the coolest type 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.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
There are absolutely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even more challenging to make out 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.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I face?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And, used properly, 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 of an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
Basically, 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:
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Locations that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
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, such as a hearing aid, are required for this kind of system to function. Here are some situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Anybody who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. There’s 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:
- Indoor settings. IR systems are often effected by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in inside spaces.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky solution since they come in various styles and types.
- For best outcomes, talk to 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 basically putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- For people who only need amplification in specific circumstances or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with each other. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
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 situation. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- People who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. 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 alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- Individuals who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
- Home and office settings.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you put a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing occurs.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re great for:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Individuals who use the phone frequently.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
These days, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with noisy 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 advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question might be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be beneficial to people with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
The point is that you have possibilities. You can customize 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. It’s time to get back into that 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!