Do you know what a cyborg is? You probably imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as basic as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
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 type of cyborg in the world. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss disadvantages
Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.
It’s difficult to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (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 affected.
The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. This is where technology comes in.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and buy one of these devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss. But they’re also just the beginning, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And, used correctly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here’s what you need to understand: locations with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.
Essentially, 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:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (such as presentations or even movies).
- Locations that tend to be loud (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Locations that tend to have a lot 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 work, you need two elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are useful for:
- Civil and governmental environments (for example, in courtrooms).
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a noisy environment.
- 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).
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Situations where there is one primary speaker at a time.
- Inside environments. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, inside settings are generally the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a speaker and a microphone. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in numerous different styles and types, which could make them a confusing possible solution.
- For best results, consult us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- You need to be careful, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- These devices are good for people who have very minor hearing loss or only need amplification in select situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the situation, these phones let you control how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
- Individuals who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Households where the phone is used by multiple people.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking lights to get your attention. 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 a good option for:
- Home and office spaces.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Those with total or near total hearing loss.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a dangerous situation.
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it creates feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is essentially what happens when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re great for:
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- People who use the phone often.
These days, it has become fairly commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you’re dealing with hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or ensuring you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
The advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you 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 person won’t be benefited by every type of technology. For instance, you might 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 might be useless to you.
The point is that you have choices. After you begin 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 movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in some situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!