Do you know what a cyborg is? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is often cleverly depicted with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But the truth is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. Which means, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even harder to understand 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 disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
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 pretty technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of dealing with hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: 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.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are great for:
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that rely on amplification.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
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 some situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- Civil and governmental locations (for example, in courtrooms).
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Inside settings. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this kind of technology works best in inside spaces.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. In general, they feature 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 several styles and types.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting an extremely loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
One solution 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 need, depending on the situation. These devices are good for:
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
- When numerous 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. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office needs your attention.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- Home and office settings.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Individuals with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put in front of each other is not pleasant. When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing occurs.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- People who have hearing aids.
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
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 advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Obviously, every person won’t get the benefit of every type 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 might not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
The point is that you have choices. 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 hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
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!