What is a cyborg? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly used to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. 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 stop there.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
There are absolutely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s hard 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 the result of hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general 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? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds really complex. This is what you need to understand: places with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Settings that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, 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:
- Anyone who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Education situations, 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. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. Because of this, inside settings are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing solution since they come in various styles and types.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
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. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- Households where the phone is used by numerous people.
- People who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use 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. 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:
- Home and office settings.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
- People who have total or near total hearing loss.
Again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs 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.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. 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:
- People who use the phone frequently.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use 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 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 together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So, now your greatest question might be: where can I get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to people who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
The point is that you have options. After you start personalizing 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.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!