Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely outlandish.
But in reality, somebody wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
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 type of cyborg in the world. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s hard to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be affected.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is disregarded. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of dealing with hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds really complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to know: places with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help people with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
An FM hearing assistance system works a lot like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are needed for this kind of system to function. Here are some scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a noisy environment.
- Civil and governmental locations (for example, in courtrooms).
- Education environments, including classrooms or conferences.
An infrared system is similar to 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). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- When you’re listening to one primary person talking.
- Inside environments. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. As a result, inside venues are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. In general, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a number of different types and styles, which might make them a challenging possible option.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- 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 people who only require amplification in certain situations or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have difficulty with each other. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
Amplified phones are an option. These devices allow you to have control of the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you need, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Individuals who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing 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 needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Individuals who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everybody needs a break sometimes).
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Home and office settings.
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. This is essentially what occurs when you hold a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. 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 great for:
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- People who talk on the phone often.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
For individuals who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand 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 may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be beneficial to those with hearing loss.
Obviously, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
The point is that you have options. 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. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!