Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think about cyborgs, especially if you love science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. After all, biology has been upgraded with technology.
The human condition is generally enhanced with these technologies. So, if you’re wearing an assistive listening device, such as a hearing aid, you’re the coolest kind of cyborg anywhere. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Drawbacks of hearing loss
Hearing loss certainly comes with some negatives.
It’s hard to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandkids is even more difficult (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but for the most part, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can get pretty quiet. This is where technology comes in.
How can hearing loss be managed with technology?
“Assistive listening device” is the broad category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds rather technical, right? You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I deal with?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Typically, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of treating hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only type of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly utilize these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Sometimes called a “hearing loop,” the technology of an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to know: areas 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 more clear due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are good for:
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud settings.
- Events that depend on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, usually a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are required for this type of system to function. FM systems are useful for:
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Anyone who wants to listen to amplified sound systems (this includes things like a speaker during a presentation or dialogue during a movie).
- Anyplace that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it difficult to hear.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. Typically, the receiver is worn around the neck with an IR system. Here are some instances where IR systems can be helpful:
- When you’re listening to one primary person speaking.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Inside settings. Strong sunlight can interfere with the signals from an IR system. So this kind of technology works best in inside spaces.
Personal amplifiers are like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally composed of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing option since they come in several styles and types.
- For best results, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any type.
- Your basically putting a really loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
- These devices are good for people who have very slight hearing loss or only require amplification in select situations.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have trouble with each other. The sound can get garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. Depending on the circumstance, these phones allow you to control how loud the speaker is. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- People who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
- People 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 primary telephone).
- Families where the phone is used by multiple people.
When something is going on, 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. 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 solution for:
- Situations where lack of attention could be dangerous (for instance, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- People with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- People who periodically remove their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- When in the office or at home.
Once again, we come back to the sometimes frustrating connection between your telephone and your hearing aid. The feedback that happens when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. This is basically what occurs when you put 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:
- Anyone who regularly talks on the phone.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- Anybody who uses hearing aids.
Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media today. Everyone 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 conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation nearby.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you get assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve acknowledged how all of these technologies can be advantageous to people with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. 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.
But you have choices and that’s really the point. You can customize 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. It’s time to get back into that conversation with your grandkids.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. If you want to hear better, call us today!