What is a cyborg? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly used to touch on the human condition). You can get some really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, someone 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 type of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Drawbacks of hearing loss
There are absolutely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
When you go to the movies, it can be difficult to follow along with the plot. It’s even more challenging to understand what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no idea what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s due to hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all fair questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: locations with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that depend on amplification.
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
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 needed for this kind of system to function. FM systems are useful for:
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- Scenarios where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
- Indoor environments. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. Because of this, inside venues are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky solution since they come in numerous styles and types.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to further damage your hearing.
- For individuals who only need amplification in specific situations or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a practical choice.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with one another. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- People who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
- Individuals 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).
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
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 wearing 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:
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- Those with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When in the office or at home.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other is not 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 link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re good for:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Individuals who use the phone frequently.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
Clearly, every person won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not require an amplifying phone, for example. A telecoil might not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
The point is that you have possibilities. After you start customizing 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 others won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!