What is a cyborg? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is often cleverly depicted with these characters). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, 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.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. 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 there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even harder (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in places with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Settings that tend to be noisy (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, such as a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to function. FM systems are great for:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- An occasion where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. As a result, inside settings are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- Situations where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, but 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 come in numerous different types and styles, which might make them a confusing possible option.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
- For people who only require amplification in certain situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the situation, these phones let you 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 somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking lights to get your attention. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Individuals with total or near total hearing loss.
- Home and office spaces.
- Individuals who periodically take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
So the link (sometimes frustrating) 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 hold a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re great for:
- People who use the phone frequently.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you get assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
Clearly, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not need an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
The point is that you have possibilities. You can personalize 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. So you can more easily understand the dialogue at the movies or the 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!