What’s a cyborg? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, particularly if you love science fiction movies (the human condition is frequently cleverly depicted with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But the truth 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 incorporated into a biological process.
The human experience is generally enhanced using these technologies. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss drawbacks
There are definitely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. It’s even more challenging to make out what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no clue what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s the result of hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“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? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I confront?
These questions are all standard.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly utilize 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). 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 areas.
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:
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Settings that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are required for this type of system to function. Here are some situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- People who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Indoor environments. Bright sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. Consequently, inside settings are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are 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 detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in several different types and styles, which could make them a challenging possible option.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by numerous people.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When someone has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other circumstances.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize 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 wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office needs your attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Home and office settings.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what occurs when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
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 interference or feedback. They’re great for:
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- People who have hearing aids.
- Individuals who use the phone often.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For individuals with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if 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 acknowledged how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to those who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every individual. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for instance. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. You can personalize the kind 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 grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!