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 (the human condition is often cleverly portrayed with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly outlandish.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like 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 drawbacks
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds pretty technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and buy one of these devices? What challenges will I deal with?
These questions are all normal.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. This is what you need to understand: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two elements: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). Here are some scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a noisy environment.
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Civil and governmental environments (for instance, in courtrooms).
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 usually worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Inside settings. IR systems are often effected by strong sunlight. Consequently, indoor venues are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
- For best outcomes, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- For individuals who only need amplification in specific situations or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- People who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
- Individuals who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For example, 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 option for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Situations where lack of attention could be hazardous (for instance, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- 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 happens when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. This is basically what occurs when you put a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For individuals with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So, now your biggest question might 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 who have hearing loss.
Obviously, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. For example, you may 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.
The point is that you have possibilities. You can customize the kind of incredible 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 hear the dialogue at the movies or the 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!