Do you know what a cyborg is? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you love science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). You can get some truly 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 experience is generally enhanced with these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss disadvantages
There are definitely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds pretty technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: people who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in areas with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are great for:
- Locations that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are some situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Education environments, like classrooms or conferences.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
- Civil and governmental locations (for example, in courtrooms).
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. Usually, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Situations where there is one primary speaker at a time.
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor settings. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. Because of this, inside venues are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. Generally, they feature 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 challenging possible solution.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
- These devices are good for individuals who have very slight hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
- For best outcomes, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are a solution. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control how loud the speaker is. These devices are good for:
- Households where the phone is used by numerous people.
- People 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 somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something happens. 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 needs your consideration.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break sometimes).
- When in the office or at home.
Again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are put 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. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re good for:
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who use the phone often.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
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 where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
Clearly, every person won’t get the benefit of 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 type of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have options. You can customize 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 understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the 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!