Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, particularly if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is frequently cleverly depicted with these characters). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies typically enhance the human condition. So you’re actually the coolest type of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are definitely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
These questions are all standard.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
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 normally well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
- Spots that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
- An occasion 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. It’s composed 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 helpful:
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- People who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Inside settings. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. Because of this, indoor settings are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky option since they come in various 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 essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- When someone has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
- People who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
When something is going on, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. For example, 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 needs your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- People who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When in the office or at home.
So the link (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. This is basically what occurs when you put a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- People who use the phone frequently.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little 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 follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The rewards 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 people who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not require an amplifying phone, for example. 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 personalize the type 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 grandchildren.
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!