Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? 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 often cleverly depicted with these characters). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some disadvantages.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even more challenging to make out 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 because of 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 ignored. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! 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 face?
These questions are all normal.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly utilize these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. This is what you need to understand: places with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Essentially, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Settings that tend to be noisy (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Locations with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are a few situations where an FM system will be helpful:
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a noisy environment.
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Education environments, like classrooms or conferences.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Scenarios where there is one main speaker at a time.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor environments. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. Consequently, indoor settings are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in a number of different styles and types, which could make them a confusing possible solution.
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking lights to get your attention. 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 needs your attention.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Home and office settings.
- Individuals who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
- Individuals with total or near total hearing loss.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs 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 happens.
A telecoil is a way to bypass that connection. You will be capable of hearing all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Individuals who talk on the phone frequently.
- People who have hearing aids.
- Anybody 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 nowadays. You will find captions pretty much everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you have 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.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question might 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.
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 require an amplifying phone, for example. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have choices. You can personalize the kind of amazing cyborg you want to be (and you will be amazing, we promise)–so that you can get the most out of life. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!