What’s a cyborg? If your mind gets swept up in science fiction movies, you likely think of cyborgs as sort of half-human, half machine characters (these characters are usually cleverly used to touch on the human condition). You can get some truly fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Negative aspects of hearing loss
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
It’s hard to keep up with the plot when you go see a movie. It’s even more challenging to understand what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no idea what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s because of 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 help with hearing loss?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you hear better is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound somewhat technical! The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and buy one of these devices? What challenges will I face?
Those are all fair questions!
Mostly, we’re accustomed to regarding technology for hearing loss in a very monolithic way: hearing aids. Because hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be capable of enjoying the world around you more when you properly use these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds pretty complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). Here are the basics: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
Essentially, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are some examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:
- Settings that tend to be noisy (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Locations that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Presentations, movies, or other events that rely on amplification.
These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, 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 scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- An event where amplified sound is used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a noisy environment.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. You have an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Indoor environments. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. As a result, indoor venues are generally the best ones for this sort of technology.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being detected by the microphone. Personal amplifiers come in several different styles and types, which could make them a confusing possible option.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- For people who only require amplification in specific circumstances or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a practical choice.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can expedite the decline of your hearing, particularly if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting an extremely loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along swimmingly. 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 a solution. 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 situations.
- When numerous people in a home use a single phone.
- Individuals who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. 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 requires your attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- When in the office or at home.
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break now and then).
- When alarm sounds like a smoke detector could lead to a hazardous situation.
- Individuals with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
Again, we come back to the occasionally frustrating link between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. This is essentially what happens when you put a phone speaker up to a hearing aid.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. 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 good for:
- Those who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Individuals who have hearing aids.
- People who talk on the phone frequently.
These days, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For people with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to understand what they’re watching even with noisy conversations around them and can work together 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? This question indicates a recognition of the benefits of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every individual. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not require an amplifying phone, for instance. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. After you begin 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 understand the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandchildren.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!