Do you know what a cyborg is? 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 utilized to touch on the human condition). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
The human experience is generally enhanced using these technologies. Which means, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg in the world. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are definitely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
When you go to the movies, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. It’s even more challenging to make out what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no idea what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s the result of hearing loss). And this can impact your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
Those are all fair questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
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 understand: individuals who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
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:
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
- Locations with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
An FM hearing assistance system works a lot like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are useful for:
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- An event where amplified sound is 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. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. As a result, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky solution since they come in several styles and types.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
- For people who only need amplification in specific circumstances or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a practical option.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. 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 situation. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by multiple people.
- When somebody has difficulty 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 offered on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. 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 a good solution for:
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Home and office spaces.
- Individuals who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) 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 happens.
A telecoil is a way to bypass 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 great for:
- People who have hearing aids.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
For people 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 in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question may 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 people who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. For example, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. You can customize the kind of amazing 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.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!