Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You likely 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). Hollywood cyborgs can seem wildly bizarre.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human experience is generally 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 part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.
It’s hard 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 due to hearing loss). And this can affect your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can become pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are a vital part of managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds really complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to know: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in places with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are great for:
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
- Venues that tend to be noisy (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
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 work. FM systems are great for:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Civil and governmental environments (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
An infrared system is a lot like an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor settings. Bright sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. As a result, inside venues are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- Scenarios where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing solution since they come in numerous styles and types.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting an extremely loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- For individuals who only require amplification in specific situations or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a good option.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with one another. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
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 want, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- People 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 somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
- Families where the phone is used by numerous people.
When something is going on, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- People who periodically take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Home and office settings.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what happens when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
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 it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you’re dealing with hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every individual. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. A telecoil might 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. You can customize the kind of incredible 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 specific situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!