What is a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you most 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 really fantastic 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.
These technologies typically enhance the human experience. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, like a hearing aid, you’re the coolest type of cyborg in the world. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t end there.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are definitely some drawbacks that come with hearing loss.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is because of the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology has a role to play.
How can technology help with hearing loss?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I buy assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
These questions are all normal.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s reasonable, as hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds really complex. Here’s what you need to understand: places with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Presentations, movies, or other events that depend on amplification.
- Locations that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
An FM hearing assistance system works a lot like a radio or a walkie-talkie. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (normally a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:
- Civil and governmental environments (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Anybody who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- Indoor settings. Strong sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. So this kind of technology works best in indoor spaces.
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
- Individuals with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing solution since they come in various styles and types.
- For individuals who only need amplification in certain situations or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re essentially putting a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- Before you use any type of personal amplifier, consult us about it first.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a little garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. 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. These devices are good for:
- When somebody has trouble hearing phone conversations but hears fine in other circumstances.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth available on either their hearing aids or their principal telephone).
When something is going on, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and blinking 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 requires your consideration, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be conscious of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- People with total or near total hearing loss.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
- Home and office spaces.
So the connection (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. This is basically what happens when you hold a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without interference or feedback. They’re great for:
- People who have hearing aids.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anybody who regularly talks on the phone.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media today. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
For individuals with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand 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 advantages of using assistive listening devices
So where can you get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be advantageous to people who have hearing loss.
Obviously, every person won’t get the benefit of every type of technology. For example, you may not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. 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. So you can more easily understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in certain situations but not all. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!