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 (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the reality is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been incorporated into a biological process.
The human experience is generally enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest type of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even more challenging to understand what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no clue what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s due to hearing loss). And this can affect your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all fair questions!
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 they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly utilize these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
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 typically well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Essentially, 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:
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Locations that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
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 required for this kind of system to function. Here are some situations where an FM system will be helpful:
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a noisy environment.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Inside environments. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in inside spaces.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally made of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing option since they come in several styles and types.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- For people who only need amplification in specific situations or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with one another. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- People who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. 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:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Individuals who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- Situations where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- When in the office or at home.
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what occurs when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- People who have hearing aids.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anybody who regularly talks on the phone.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you’re dealing with hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question might 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 beneficial to people with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. 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 kind of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
The point is that you have choices. After you begin personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily understand 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!