Do you know what a cyborg is? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly used to comment on the human condition). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
These technologies usually enhance the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest type of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s hard to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. 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 because of hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds really complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: locations with hearing loops are normally 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 beneficial:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Locations that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
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 (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a loud environment.
- Civil and governmental locations (for example, in courtrooms).
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- Scenarios where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, indoor venues are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in several different styles and types, which could make them a challenging possible option.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- For people who only require amplification in certain situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a practical choice.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- When somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When numerous 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. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- Those who have total or near total hearing loss.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When in the office or at home.
Once again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are put in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing occurs.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. You will be capable of hearing all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
These days, it has become rather 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 bit 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 follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be advantageous to people 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 instance. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have possibilities. 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.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!