Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly outlandish.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies typically add to the human condition. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds really complex. This is what you need to know: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Locations that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Locations that tend to be loud (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 elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are useful for:
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- When you’re listening to one primary person talking.
- Inside environments. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this kind of technology works best in indoor settings.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. In general, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky solution since they come in several styles and types.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- For best outcomes, 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 select situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- Individuals who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- 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).
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. 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 an excellent option for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- Anybody whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- When in the office or at home.
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link 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 next to a phone, the same thing occurs.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
For individuals with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand 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 if it’s mumbled.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be advantageous to those with hearing loss.
Clearly, every person won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. For example, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
But you have options and that’s really the point. 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 understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!