What is a cyborg? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you probably think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly outlandish.
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 incorporated into a biological process.
The human experience is generally enhanced with these technologies. Which means, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg in the world. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some negatives.
It’s hard to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad 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? Is there someplace I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: people who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are great for:
- Events that depend on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Settings that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). Here are some situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Education environments, including classrooms or conferences.
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
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 (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- Situations where there’s one main speaker at a time.
- Inside settings. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in indoor spaces.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing solution since they come in numerous styles and types.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- For individuals who only require amplification in specific situations or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are a solution. These devices give you control over the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you want, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Anybody whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- When in the office or at home.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what happens when you hold a phone speaker up 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 great for:
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you’re dealing with hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every individual. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have possibilities. You can personalize the type of incredible cyborg you want to be (and you will be amazing, we promise)–so that you can get the most out of life. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in certain situations but not all. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!