What is a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you probably think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is frequently cleverly depicted with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly outlandish.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
The human condition is usually enhanced using these technologies. Which means, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg anywhere. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss certainly comes with some drawbacks.
It’s hard to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is because of 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 disregarded. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and buy one of these devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all standard.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are many types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly utilize these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: places with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
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 work. FM systems are useful for:
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a noisy environment.
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
An infrared system is a lot like 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:
- Individuals who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor settings. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. As a result, indoor settings are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- When you’re listening to one primary person talking.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in a number of different types and styles, which may make them a confusing possible solution.
- For best outcomes, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- For individuals who only need amplification in specific circumstances or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a practical option.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
Hearing aids and phones often have difficulty with each other. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
When something is going on, 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. 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:
- When in the office or at home.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- People with total or near total hearing loss.
Again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it causes 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 connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who use the phone frequently.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
For people who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get assistive listening devices? This question indicates 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. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not require 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 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.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!