Do you know what a cyborg is? 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 often cleverly portrayed with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely bizarre.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone 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.
These technologies typically enhance the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest type of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. 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 it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider 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 you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you correctly utilize these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: locations 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 utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Venues that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). Here are a few situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
- Anyone who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a loud environment.
An infrared system is similar to 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:
- When you’re listening to one primary person talking.
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside settings are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- People who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust 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 a few different types and styles, which might make them a confusing possible option.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- For individuals who only require amplification in certain situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a practical option.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- When someone has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
- People 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).
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. So when something around your workplace or home requires your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Home and office spaces.
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what occurs when you put a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to get around 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 great for:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who talk on the phone frequently.
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 what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
For individuals with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend 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 benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest 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 with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not require an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have possibilities. After you begin 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 movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!