What is a cyborg? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). You can get some really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human condition is generally enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. It’s even harder to make out what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no idea 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 impacted.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and purchase one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. Here’s what you need to understand: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Events that depend on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud settings.
These FM systems are similar to 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 (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are useful for:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a noisy environment.
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be helpful:
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor environments. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in inside spaces.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally made of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a few different styles and types, which could make them a challenging possible option.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very minor hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with each other. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize 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. So when something around your workplace or home needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Individuals with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When in the office or at home.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Situations where lack of attention could be hazardous (for instance, when a smoke alarm sounds).
Once again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
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 good for:
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- People who use the phone often.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
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 what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
For people with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work together 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 buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Obviously, every individual won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. For example, you might 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 might be useless to you.
The point is that you have options. After you begin 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 hear the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in certain situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!