What is a cyborg? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly used to comment on the human condition). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
These technologies typically enhance the human experience. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg anywhere. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss disadvantages
Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.
It’s hard to follow 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 idea what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s due to hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds pretty technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I face?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. Here’s what you need to understand: individuals who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Locations that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Locations that tend to have a lot of echoes or have poor acoustics.
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, like a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to function. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- An occasion where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside venues are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- Situations where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. In general, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control the volume of the speaker. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- 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).
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking lights to get your attention. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office requires your attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- When in the office or at home.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Situations where lack of attention could be dangerous (for instance, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- People who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
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 put in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing occurs.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re great for:
- People who have hearing aids.
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
For people who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So, now your greatest question might be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Clearly, every individual won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. For example, you might 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.
But you have options and that’s really the point. You can personalize the type of amazing 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 grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!