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 (the human condition is often cleverly depicted with these characters). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely bizarre.
But the reality is that, technically, anybody who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. After all, biology has been enhanced with technology.
These technologies typically enhance the human condition. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s much more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss drawbacks
Hearing loss certainly comes with some drawbacks.
When you go to the movies, it can be hard to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandkids is even harder (some of that is attributable to the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can impact your life in very 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?
Generally speaking, technology that helps you have better hearing is lumped into the category of “assistive listening devices”. That sounds rather technical, right? The question may arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Where can I get assistive listening devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
Those are all reasonable questions!
Mostly, we’re accustomed to thinking of technology for hearing loss in a rather monolithic way: hearing aids. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of treating hearing loss. 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 properly use these devices.
What types of assistive listening devices are there?
Often called a “hearing loop,” the technology behind an induction loop sounds really complicated (there are electromagnetic fields involved). This is what you need to understand: areas with hearing loops are typically well marked with signage and they can help individuals with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy settings.
Basically, hearing loops utilize magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Induction loops are good for:
- Spots that tend to have lots of echoes or have poor acoustics.
- Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).
- Lobbies, waiting rooms, and other noisy settings.
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 (usually in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are useful for:
- Education situations, including classrooms or conferences.
- Anywhere that is loud and noisy, especially where that noise makes it challenging to hear.
- Civil and governmental locations (for example, in courtrooms).
- An occasion where amplified sound is being used, including music from a speaker or sound at a movie.
An infrared system is similar to an FM system. It consists of a receiver and an amplifier. With an IR system, the receiver is often worn around your neck (sort of like a lanyard). IR hearing assistance systems are great for:
- Situations where there is one main speaker at a time.
- Indoor environments. IR systems are frequently effected by strong sunlight. So this kind of technology works best in inside settings.
- Individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Personal amplifiers are kind of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. They’re generally made of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone detects sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers might seem like a confusing solution since they come in numerous styles and types.
- For people who only need amplification in specific circumstances or have very slight hearing loss, these devices would be a practical choice.
- For best outcomes, talk to us before using personal amplifiers of any kind.
- You need to be cautious, though, these devices can hasten the decline of your hearing, especially if you aren’t careful. (You’re basically putting a super loud speaker right inside of your ear, after all.)
Hearing aids and phones often have trouble with one another. Sometimes you have feedback, sometimes things get a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the situation, these phones allow you to control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
- Households where the phone is used by multiple people.
- People who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices utilize lights, vibration, or occasionally loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. So when something around your workplace or home needs your attention, even without your hearing aids, you’ll be aware of it.
Alerting devices are an excellent option for:
- Situations where lack of attention could be hazardous (for instance, when a smoke alarm sounds).
- Anyone whose hearing is totally or nearly totally gone.
- When you take breaks from your hearing aids.
- Home and office settings.
So the connection (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are held in front of each other isn’t pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid close to a phone, the same thing happens.
That connection can be bypassed by a telecoil. It will connect your hearing aid to your phone directly, so you can listen to all of your conversations without noise or feedback. They’re great for:
- People who have hearing aids.
- People who use the phone often.
- Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
Nowadays, it has become rather commonplace for people to use 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 loud conversations around them and can work in tandem with their hearing aids so they can hear dialog even if it’s mumbled.
What are the benefits of using assistive listening devices?
So where can you buy assistive listening devices? That’s a good question because it means you’ve recognized how all of these technologies can be beneficial to those with hearing loss.
Clearly, every individual won’t be benefited by every kind of technology. 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 kind of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.
The point is that you have choices. 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.
Hearing Assistive Technology can help you hear better in specific situations but not all. Call us right away so we can help you hear better!
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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.