What’s a cyborg? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is frequently cleverly depicted with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely outlandish.
But the truth is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
The human experience is usually enhanced using these technologies. Which means, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and buy one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Typically, 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 start, there are many kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are typically well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
- Settings that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- 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 needed for this kind of system to function. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Anyone who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- Inside environments. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this kind of technology works best in inside settings.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. 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 might seem like a tricky option since they come in various styles and types.
- For people who only require amplification in specific situations or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- For best outcomes, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are an option. These devices allow you to have control of the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you need, depending on the situation. These devices are good for:
- Households where the phone is used by numerous people.
- People who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
- 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 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. 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 consideration.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
- People who have total or near total hearing loss.
- When in the office or at home.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what occurs when you hold 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 listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re great for:
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
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.
When you’re dealing with hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
Clearly, every individual won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. For example, you may 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 choices and that’s really the point. You can customize 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.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in certain situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!