What’s a cyborg? If you get 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). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. Which means, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg anywhere. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, 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 neglected. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all normal.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly utilize these devices.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to understand: areas with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, you need two components: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Anyone who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Education situations, like classrooms or conferences.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
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 great for:
- Scenarios where there’s one main speaker at a time.
- Indoor settings. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in inside spaces.
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers may seem like a tricky option since they come in various styles and types.
- For individuals who only require amplification in specific situations or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a practical option.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- 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 inside of your ear, after all.)
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with each other. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. 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 want, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Families where the phone is used by numerous people.
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office requires your consideration.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- When in the office or at home.
- People who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- Individuals with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
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 is not pleasant. This is basically what happens when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
That connection can be bypassed 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:
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in combination 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 where can you get assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. You can customize the type 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 understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!