What’s a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you probably think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). You can get some really wild 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 enhance the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is attributable to 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 disregarded. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
Those are all fair questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are a vital part of managing hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds quite complex. This is what you need to know: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy places.
- Venues that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
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, such as classrooms or conferences.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- Inside environments. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside venues are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, just less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally made of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in a few different styles and types, which may make them a challenging possible option.
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in specific situations.
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to damage your hearing further.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are a solution. These devices give you control over the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you need, depending on the circumstance. These devices are good for:
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- 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 primary telephone).
- Individuals who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office needs your consideration.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When in the office or at home.
So the connection (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what happens when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re great for:
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who talk on the phone frequently.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
For individuals who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend 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 rewards of using assistive listening devices
So, now your greatest question might be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you might not need an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have possibilities. 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 hear the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!