What is a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is often cleverly depicted with these characters). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, someone wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been incorporated into a biological process.
The human condition is usually enhanced with these technologies. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some disadvantages.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to keep up with the plot. 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 it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? You might 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 normal.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we think about hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of dealing with hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous types of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds pretty complex (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to understand: people who wear 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:
- Places with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Settings that tend to be noisy (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are required for this kind of system to function. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be useful:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
- Education environments, like classrooms or conferences.
- Whenever it’s hard to hear because of a noisy environment.
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some examples where IR systems can be useful:
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Indoor environments. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside venues are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
- People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.
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 might seem like a tricky solution since they come in several styles and types.
- For best results, speak with us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very mild hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be careful not to further damage your hearing.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. 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 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 situation. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- When someone has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other situations.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
When something happens, 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 example. So when something around your workplace or home needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- Home and office spaces.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
- People who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other is not pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing occurs.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re good for:
- Individuals who use the phone often.
- People who have hearing aids.
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you’re dealing with hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So, now your biggest question might be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be worthwhile to those with hearing loss.
Clearly, every individual won’t get the benefit of every kind of technology. For instance, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with reliable volume control. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil may be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. You can personalize the kind of incredible 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 certain situations but not all. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!