What is a cyborg? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
The human condition is generally enhanced using these technologies. Which means, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss disadvantages
Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.
When you go to the movies, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
These questions are all standard.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of managing 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 completely enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here’s what you need to understand: areas 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 good for:
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
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 (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are some situations where an FM system will be helpful:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- An occasion where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- 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. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
- Inside settings. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. As a result, inside venues are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. Generally, 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 tricky option since they come in various styles and types.
- For people who only require amplification in certain circumstances or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to further damage your hearing.
Hearing aids and phones often have difficulty with each other. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Families where the phone is used by multiple people.
- People who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. This means even if you aren’t using 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 you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- People who have total or near total hearing loss.
- When in the office or at home.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what happens when you put a phone speaker up 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:
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little 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.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. For example, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
The point is that you have choices. You can customize the kind of incredible 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 grandchildren.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!