What’s a cyborg? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly used to comment on the human condition). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
The human condition is generally enhanced with 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 the best part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are definitely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to follow along 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 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 affected.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re used to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial 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 utilize these devices.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. Here are the basics: areas with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help people 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. Induction loops are good for:
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Settings that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- 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).
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often effected by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in inside settings.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a tricky option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- Your essentially putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. 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 situation. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Households where the phone is used by numerous people.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
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 alert when something around your home or office requires your attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Home and office settings.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing occurs.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Anybody who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people who have 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 benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be advantageous to those who have hearing loss.
Obviously, every individual won’t be benefited by every type of technology. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may 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 choices 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. 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!