What is a cyborg? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely bizarre.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
The human condition is generally enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some disadvantages.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to keep up with the plot. It’s even more challenging 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 due to hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and buy one of these 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 treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: locations with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud settings.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are needed for this kind of system to function. FM systems are useful for:
- 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 due to a noisy environment.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Education situations, like 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. Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- Scenarios where there is 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.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
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 detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a number of different styles and types, which might make them a confusing possible option.
- 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 a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- For people who only require amplification in specific situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
- For best outcomes, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have difficulty with each other. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option 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 want, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- People who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- When somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
When something is going on, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t wearing 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 like a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- People with total or near total hearing loss.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When in the office or at home.
Again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. This is basically what happens when you hold a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who use the phone often.
- People who have hearing aids.
Nowadays, 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 bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people with 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 biggest question may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Clearly, every person won’t get the benefit of every kind of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not require an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. You can personalize 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 specific situations but not all. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!