Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are typically cleverly used to touch on the human condition). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, somebody wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies typically enhance the human experience. Which means, if you’re using an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is due to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of dealing with hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But they’re also just the start, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. Here’s what you need to know: areas with hearing loops are normally well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are great for:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud places.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to work, you need two components: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). Here are a few situations where an FM system will be useful:
- Anybody who wants to listen to sound systems that use amplification (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Civil and governmental environments (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a loud environment.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Scenarios where there’s one primary speaker at a time.
- Inside environments. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this sort of technology.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, but less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally composed of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a few different styles and types, which might make them a confusing possible option.
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
One solution 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 want, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Families where the phone is used by numerous people.
- Individuals who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something happens. For instance, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office needs your attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- Individuals with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- People who intermittently remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- Home and office spaces.
Once 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 connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- People who use the phone often.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) 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 bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have 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 near you.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your greatest question may be: where can I purchase assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to people who have hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. For example, 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.
The point is that you have possibilities. You can personalize 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. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!