Do you know what a cyborg is? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly used to comment on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely outlandish.
But the reality is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies typically enhance the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.
It’s hard 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 idea what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s due to hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: areas with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help people with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Essentially, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are great for:
- Settings that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are required for this type of system to work. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Anybody who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- Inside environments. IR systems are often effected by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside venues are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Scenarios where there is one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. 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 various styles and types.
- For individuals who only need amplification in specific situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a practical choice.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the situation, these phones let you control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- When someone has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- 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. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. 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 consideration.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- Individuals who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Home and office settings.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. This is essentially what happens when you put a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. 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:
- Individuals who talk on the phone frequently.
- Individuals who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you have 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 nearby.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you start personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!