What is a cyborg? If your mind gets 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 really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
The human experience is generally enhanced using these technologies. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are absolutely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s hard to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. 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 become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I face?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re used to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you correctly 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 complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to know: areas with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Essentially, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Venues 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 function, you need two components: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a noisy environment.
- Anybody who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- Inside settings. IR systems are often effected by strong sunlight. Because of this, inside settings are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Situations where there’s one main speaker at a time.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally composed of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky solution since they come in various styles and types.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very slight hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with each other. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
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:
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- People who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize 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 requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When in the office or at home.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Individuals who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put in front of each other is not pleasant. This is basically what happens when you hold a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
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 connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who have hearing aids.
- Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to those who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not require an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil might not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you begin customizing 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 grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!