What is a cyborg? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you probably think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is often cleverly depicted with these characters). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human condition is usually enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some negatives.
It’s difficult 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 clue what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s due to 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 broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
These questions are all normal.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are a vital part of managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in places with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
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:
- Settings that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are required for this kind of system to function. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- An occasion where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside venues are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing option since they come in various styles and types.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are a solution. These devices give you control over the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you need, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- People who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
- Individuals who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. 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 option for:
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- Home and office spaces.
- Anybody whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Individuals who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
Once again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you put a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be avoided 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 good for:
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little 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 together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I get assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Obviously, every person won’t get the benefit of every kind of technology. For instance, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
But you have options and that’s really the point. After you begin personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily understand the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!