Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is frequently cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the reality is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
The human condition is usually enhanced with these technologies. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
Hearing loss certainly comes with some drawbacks.
When you go to the movies, it can be difficult to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even harder (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I confront?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Mostly, we’re accustomed 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 able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly utilize these devices.
What are the different types 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: areas with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
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:
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are required for this type of system to work. FM systems are useful for:
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a loud environment.
- 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).
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
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 (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Scenarios where there’s one main speaker at a time.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Inside environments. IR systems are often effected by strong sunlight. Because of this, inside venues are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally made of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing option since they come in several styles and types.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have difficulty with each other. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. These devices give you control over 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 connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
- Individuals who only have a hard time hearing or understanding conversations on the phone.
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
When something happens, 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 requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Home and office spaces.
- Those with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- People who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
Once again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. You will be capable of hearing all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Individuals who use the phone often.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
These days, 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.
For individuals who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if it’s mumbled.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to those who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. For example, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have choices. After you start personalizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!