What is a cyborg? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you most likely think of cyborgs as kind of half-human, half machine characters (the human condition is often cleverly portrayed with these characters). You can get some really wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the reality is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been incorporated into a biological process.
The human experience is usually enhanced with these technologies. So, if you’re using an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg in the world. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Disadvantages of hearing loss
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some drawbacks.
When you go to see a movie, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even harder (some of that is attributable to 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 affected.
The world can become very quiet if your hearing loss is ignored. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps you hear better is put into. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? What challenges will I confront?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are a vital part of dealing with hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you properly utilize these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: places with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help those with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Locations that tend to have lots of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are needed for this kind of system to work. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- An event where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Education situations, such as classrooms or conferences.
- Civil and governmental locations (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Whenever it’s hard to hear due to a loud environment.
An infrared system is a lot like 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 ideal for:
- Indoor environments. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. So this type of technology works best in indoor spaces.
- People with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in a few different styles and types, which could make them a challenging possible solution.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only need amplification in specific situations.
- Your essentially putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to further damage your hearing.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Families where the phone is used by several people.
- Individuals who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
When something is going on, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. For example, when the doorbell dings, the phone rings, or the microwave bings. So when something around your workplace or home requires your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be dangerous (for instance, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- Home and office settings.
- People who periodically remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
So the link (sometimes frustrating) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing occurs.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil connects your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re good for:
- People who have hearing aids.
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a little easier to understand.
For people who have hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend what they’re watching even with loud conversations around them and can work together with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even when it’s mumbled.
The rewards of using assistive listening devices
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for people who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may 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 options. After you start personalizing 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.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!