Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you probably think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg in the world. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are definitely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
It’s hard to keep up with 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 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 has a role to play.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds pretty technical, right? 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 deal with?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of treating hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. 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?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in places with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are required for this kind of system to function. FM systems are useful for:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a loud environment.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have 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:
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, indoor venues are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- People who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Situations where there is one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. In general, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
- For people who only require amplification in certain situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes there can be feedback.
One option for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. 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.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home requires your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Individuals who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- Home and office settings.
So the link (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. This is essentially what happens when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- People who have hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
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.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not need an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. After you start personalizing 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’re interested in hearing better, call us today!