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 usually cleverly used to touch on the human condition). Hollywood cyborgs can seem extremely bizarre.
But the truth is that, technically, anyone who wears a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been incorporated into biology.
The human experience is generally enhanced with these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg in the world if you’re using an assistive listening device. And there’s a lot more technology where that comes from.
Hearing loss negative aspects
There are absolutely some negative aspects that come with hearing loss.
It’s difficult to follow the plot when you go see a movie. Understanding your grandchildren is even more difficult (some of that is because of the age-gap, but mostly, it’s hearing loss). And this can affect your life in extremely profound (often negative) ways.
Left unchecked, the world can get pretty quiet. That’s where technology plays a role.
How can technology alleviate hearing loss?
“Assistive listening device” is the general category that any device which helps your hearing is put into. That sounds pretty technical, right? The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there somewhere I can go and buy one of these devices? Are there challenges to using assistive listening devices?
These questions are all standard.
Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. Because hearing aids are a crucial part of managing hearing loss, that’s reasonable. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And you will be able to enjoy the world around you more when you correctly use these devices.
What kinds of assistive listening devices are there?
Induction loops, also called hearing loops, use technology that sounds quite complex. This is what you need to understand: people with hearing aids can hear more clearly in locations with a hearing loop which are normally well marked with signage.
Basically, hearing loops use magnetic fields to make a speaker’s voice more clear. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be beneficial:
- Presentations, movies, or other situations that rely on amplification.
- Locations that tend to be loud (such as waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
- Locations that tend to have a lot of echoes or have low-quality acoustics.
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 needed for this kind of system to work. Here are a few scenarios where an FM system will be helpful:
- 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).
- Whenever it’s difficult to hear because of a loud environment.
- Civil and governmental environments (for instance, in courtrooms).
- Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
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 (sort of like a lanyard). Here are some instances where IR systems can be useful:
- When you’re listening to one main person talking.
- Indoor settings. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. Consequently, indoor venues are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
- Individuals who use cochlear implants or hearing aids.
Personal amplifiers are sort of like hearing aids, only less specialized and less powerful. In general, they consist of a microphone and a speaker. The sound is being amplified through the speakers after being picked up by the microphone. Personal amplifiers may seem like a confusing option since they come in numerous styles and types.
- Your basically putting a really 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, consult us about it first.
- These devices are good for individuals who have very slight hearing loss or only need amplification in specific situations.
Phones and hearing aids don’t always get along very well. The sound can become garbled or too low in volume and sometimes you can get feedback.
Amplified phones are an option. Depending on the circumstance, these phones let you control the volume of the speaker. These devices are good for:
- Households where the phone is used by several people.
- When somebody has difficulty hearing phone conversations but hears okay in other situations.
- People who don’t use Bluetooth enabled devices, like their phone or their hearing aid.
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 example. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be alert when something around your home or office needs your attention.
Alerting devices are an excellent solution for:
- When in the office or at home.
- Anyone whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
- Individuals who intermittently take off their hearing aids (everyone needs a break sometimes).
- Situations where lack of attention could be dangerous (for example, when a smoke alarm goes off).
So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone comes to the front. When you put a speaker up to another speaker, it produces feedback (sometimes painful feedback). When you hold a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.
A telecoil is a way to get around that connection. 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:
- Anyone who frequently talks on the phone.
- Anyone who uses hearing aids.
- Individuals who do not have access to Bluetooth hearing aids or phones.
Closed captions (and subtitles more generally) have become a mainstay of the way people enjoy media nowadays. Everyone uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little bit easier to understand what you’re watching.
For individuals with hearing loss, captions will help them be able to comprehend 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 advantages 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 worthwhile to people with hearing loss.
To be sure, not every strategy is right for every person. If you have a cell phone with easy-to-use volume control, you may not require an amplifying phone, for instance. A telecoil may not even work for you if you don’t have the right type of hearing aid.
The point is that you have options. You can personalize 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 hear the dialogue at the movies or the conversation with your grandkids.
Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and some won’t. If you’re interested in hearing better, call us today!