What’s a cyborg? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly used to touch on the human condition). You can get some really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the reality is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
The human condition is usually enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest type of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are definitely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to follow 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 for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Mostly, we’re used to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of treating hearing loss. But they’re also just the start, there are many kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
Basically, 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:
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (usually in the form of a hearing aid). Here are some situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Education environments, such as classrooms or conferences.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be helpful:
- Indoor environments. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. So this type of technology works best in indoor settings.
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
- People who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally made of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers may seem like a tricky option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only need amplification in specific situations.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. 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 need, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- 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 primary telephone).
- When somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
When something is going on, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing 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 wearing 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:
- When in the office or at home.
- Those who have complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- Situations where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- People who periodically remove their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
Again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it causes feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you put a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing occurs.
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:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- People who use the phone frequently.
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media nowadays. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if it’s mumbled.
What are the advantages of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question may be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? This question implies a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. For example, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. A telecoil might not even work for you if you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid.
The point is that you have choices. After you start customizing your journey toward being an awesome cyborg, you will be ready to get the most out of your life. So you can more easily understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!