What’s a cyborg? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But in reality, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human experience is usually enhanced with these technologies. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg anywhere. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss disadvantages
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some negatives.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even harder 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 the result of hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and buy one of these devices? What challenges will I confront?
Those are all fair questions!
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of managing hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. Here’s what you need to understand: locations with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Essentially, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to work. FM systems are useful for:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Anyone who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Education environments, like classrooms or conferences.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Indoor settings. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. As a result, indoor settings are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Scenarios where there is one main speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. In general, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in a few different styles and types, which may make them a challenging possible option.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. These devices allow you to have control of the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you want, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
- When someone has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
- Individuals 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).
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 aware when something around your home or office needs your attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- Those with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When in the office or at home.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it causes feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what occurs when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. You will be capable of hearing all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Anybody who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
Nowadays, 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 bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you 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.
Obviously, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for example. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. You can customize 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 understand the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!