Do you know what a cyborg is? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you probably think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are usually cleverly used to comment on the human condition). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the reality is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into a biological process.
These technologies usually enhance the human condition. Which means, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg in the world. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss certainly comes with some drawbacks.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is due to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! 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 face?
These questions are all standard.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are many kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds quite complex. Here’s what you need to know: areas with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Venues that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Venues that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
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 (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are some scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Anybody who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor settings. Bright sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. As a result, inside venues are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- Situations where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a speaker and a microphone. 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.
- For individuals who only need amplification in specific situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. 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 situation. These devices are good for:
- Individuals who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations on the phone.
- Individuals who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- Households where the phone is used by numerous people.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something happens. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for example. This means even if you aren’t wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office requires your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good option for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- People with total or near total hearing loss.
- Situations where lack of attention could be dangerous (for instance, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- When in the office or at home.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
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 good for:
- People who use the phone often.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
For people with 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.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not require an amplifying phone, for example. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have possibilities. After you begin customizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandchildren.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!