What is a cyborg? You most likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, especially if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are typically cleverly utilized to comment on the human condition). You can get some truly wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But in reality, someone wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be viewed as a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
The human condition is usually enhanced with these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best part is that the technology doesn’t stop there.
Hearing loss disadvantages
There are absolutely some disadvantages that come with hearing loss.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. It’s even more challenging to make out what your grandkids are talking about (part of this is because you have no clue what K-pop is, and you never will, but mostly it’s the result of hearing loss). And this can impact your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
Broadly speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds pretty technical, right? You may be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to utilizing assistive listening devices?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Usually, 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, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more fully enjoy the world around you.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, utilize technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: people who wear hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Induction loops are great for:
- Settings that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Events that rely on amplified sound (including presentations or even movies).
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
An FM hearing assistance system works much like a radio or a walkie-talkie. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, such as a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to work. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- Courtrooms and other government or civil places.
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational activities.
- Anyone 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. There’s an amplifier and a receiver. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- People who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
- Indoor environments. Bright sunlight can impact the signals from an IR system. Consequently, inside settings are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less powerful versions of a hearing aid. Generally, they feature a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a tricky option since they come in several styles and types.
- Your basically putting a very loud speaker right inside of your ear so you need to be cautious not to damage your hearing further.
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, speak with us about it first.
- For people who only need amplification in specific circumstances or have very mild hearing loss, these devices would be a good choice.
Hearing aids and phones often have difficulty with one another. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a little garbled, sometimes you can’t get the volume quite right.
One option for this is an amplified phone. 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 need, depending on the situation. These devices are good for:
- People who don’t have their phone connected to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
- Individuals who only have a difficult time hearing or understanding conversations over the phone.
When something happens, these devices (sometimes called signalers or notification devices) use loud noises, vibrations, and flashing lights to get your attention. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. This means even if you aren’t wearing your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office requires your attention.
Alerting devices are a good solution for:
- Individuals with complete or nearly complete hearing loss.
- When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a dangerous situation.
- People who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everybody needs a break sometimes).
- When in the office or at home.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you put a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. It will link up your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can hear all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re great for:
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Those who don’t have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
- Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to utilize captions and subtitles to enjoy media. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.
When you have 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.
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 acknowledged how all of these technologies can be advantageous to those who have hearing loss.
Obviously, every person won’t get the benefit of every kind of technology. For example, you might 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.
The point is that you have possibilities. You can customize the type 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 movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. Call us as soon as possible so we can help you hear better!