What’s a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human experience is usually enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult 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 this can impact your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! 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 reasonable questions!
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 they’re also just the start, there are many types of assistive hearing devices. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: locations with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Locations that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are needed for this kind of system to work. Here are a few situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a noisy environment.
- Education environments, such as classrooms or conferences.
- An occasion where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Civil and governmental environments (for instance, in courtrooms).
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. 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:
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Because of this, inside settings are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in several different types and styles, which may make them a challenging possible solution.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- For individuals who only require amplification in specific situations or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with one another. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
Sometimes 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 needs your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- Individuals who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- Home and office spaces.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. When you put 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 links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Individuals who talk on the phone often.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media today. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
For individuals who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand 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 advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest 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 worthwhile to people with hearing loss.
Clearly, every individual won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
The point is that you have options. You can personalize the type 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 specific situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!