What’s a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is often cleverly depicted with these characters). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
The human condition is usually enhanced using these technologies. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg anywhere. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Drawbacks of hearing loss
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is due to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, there are many types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly utilize these devices.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here’s what you need to understand: individuals who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Locations that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
- An occasion where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. As a result, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less powerful 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 come in numerous different styles and types, which could make them a confusing possible option.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very minor hearing loss or only need amplification in specific situations.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have difficulty with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Households where the phone is used by multiple people.
- 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 principal telephone).
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
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 wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office requires your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for instance, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- Anybody whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- When in the office or at home.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. 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:
- Individuals who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
These days, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
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 if it’s mumbled.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. For example, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
The point is that you have possibilities. After you start 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 grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!