What’s a cyborg? If you get swept up in science fiction movies, you probably 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 wild cyborgs in Hollywood.
But actually, somebody wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, in fact, are a technology that has been integrated into biology.
These technologies usually add to the human experience. 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 much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss undeniably comes with some negatives.
When you go to see a movie, it can be hard to follow along with the plot. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And it can be profound (and often negative) how much your life can be impacted.
Left untreated, the world can become pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can hearing loss be addressed with technology?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. Ok, it does sound a bit technical! You might be thinking: what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I confront?
Those are all fair 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 they’re also just the start, there are numerous kinds of assistive hearing devices. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What are the different types of assistive listening devices?
Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. Here are the basics: individuals with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are usually well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other loud settings.
- Locations with inferior acoustic qualities like echoes.
These FM systems are like a walkie-talkie or radio. A transmitter, typically a speaker or microphone, and a receiver, like a hearing aid, are needed for this type of system to work. FM systems are useful for:
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
- 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).
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear due to a noisy environment.
There are similarities between an infrared system and an FM system. It’s composed of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is usually worn around your neck (kind of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are ideal for:
- Indoor settings. IR systems are often impacted by strong sunlight. Because of this, inside settings are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- When you’re listening to one main person speaking.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally made of a microphone and a speaker. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in numerous different styles and types, which may make them a confusing possible solution.
- 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 a super loud speaker right in your ear, after all.)
- Before you use any kind of personal amplifier, talk to us about it first.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very slight hearing loss or only need amplification in specific situations.
Hearing aids and phones sometimes have difficulty with one another. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
One solution for this is an amplified phone. These devices give you control over the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you want, depending on the circumstance. Here are some things that these devices are good for:
- Individuals who only have a difficult time understanding or hearing conversations on the phone.
- People who don’t have Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
Often called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something happens. For example, 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 a good solution for:
- Those who have total or near total hearing loss.
- Circumstances where lack of attention could be hazardous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
- Individuals who periodically take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break now and then).
- Home and office settings.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you hold a speaker up to another speaker, it causes feedback (sometimes painful feedback). This is basically what happens when you put a phone speaker close to a hearing aid.
That connection can be avoided by a telecoil. You will be able to hear all of your calls without feedback as your telecoil links your hearing aid directly to your phone. They’re great for:
- Anybody who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
- People who use the phone frequently.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
Nowadays, it has become fairly commonplace for people to use captions and subtitles to enjoy media. You will find captions just about everywhere! Why? Because they make what you’re watching a bit easier to understand.
When you have hearing loss, captions can work in combination with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can hear your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.
What are 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 worthwhile to those with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not need an amplifying phone, for example. If you don’t have the right kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
But you have options and that’s really the point. After you start 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 understand the dialogue at the movie theater or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. If you want to hear better, call us today!