Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are typically cleverly used to comment on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely bizarre.
But the reality is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human condition is generally enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. 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 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 really quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better 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 buy assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Typically, 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 you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations 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. Induction loops are great for:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor 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 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 useful:
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Anyone who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- Scenarios where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
- Inside environments. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. So this type of technology works best in inside spaces.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally made of a speaker and a microphone. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a few different styles and types, which may make them a challenging possible solution.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by multiple people.
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. 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:
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Home and office spaces.
- Anybody whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Individuals who periodically take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
So the link (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing occurs.
That connection can be bypassed 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:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who use the phone frequently.
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 individuals who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates 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 might not require 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. After you begin personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!