What is a cyborg? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human condition is usually enhanced with these technologies. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
Hearing loss certainly comes with some negatives.
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 clue 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 impacted.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad 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? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds really complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to understand: places with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help individuals 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:
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Spots that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to work, you need two elements: a transmitter (normally 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 helpful:
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a noisy environment.
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- Situations where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. Because of this, indoor venues are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a speaker and a microphone. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a tricky option since they come in several styles and types.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- For people who only need amplification in certain situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a practical option.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations on the phone.
- People who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Individuals who periodically remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- Home and office settings.
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put in front of each other isn’t pleasant. This is basically 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 links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
For individuals who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to people who have hearing loss.
Clearly, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. You can personalize 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. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!