What’s a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you probably think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. 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.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.
It’s hard to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even harder to make out 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 because of hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy 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 behind an induction loop sounds really complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: locations with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help people with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
- Spots that tend to have a lot of echoes or have poor acoustics.
An FM hearing assistance system works a lot like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are needed for this kind of system to function. FM systems are useful for:
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
An infrared system is a lot like 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 instances where IR systems can be useful:
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside venues are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing solution since they come in various styles and types.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- 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 an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- These devices are good for individuals who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. These devices give you control over 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.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
When something is going on, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking lights to get your attention. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. So when something around your workplace or home requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- Those who have total or near total hearing loss.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Home and office spaces.
- Situations where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are put in front of each other is not pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. 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 great for:
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.
Nowadays, it has become rather 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 bit 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 hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So, now your greatest question might be: where can I get assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
Obviously, every person won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
But you have choices 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 hear 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!