What’s a cyborg? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly used to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely outlandish.
But the reality is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
These technologies usually enhance the human experience. Which means, if you’re using an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are definitely some negative aspects 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 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 impacted.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Locations that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
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 (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are a few situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Education environments, like classrooms or conferences.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in inside settings.
- When you’re listening to one primary person talking.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust 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.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- For people who only require amplification in specific situations or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
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 need, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- When someone has trouble 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 principal telephone).
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. So when something around your workplace or home needs your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
- Situations where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- Home and office spaces.
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
Once again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
A telecoil is a way to bypass 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:
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- Individuals who talk on the phone often.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little 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 follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question implies 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. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not need an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have options 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. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!