If you are diagnosed with hearing loss, there are various technologies and tools that can help you. Assistive devices can help you to hear more clearly, although they can’t repair your hearing. While these tools aren’t perfect and won’t necessarily sound exactly like your natural hearing, they can make it easier to do many things, from talking on the phone to watching TV. Hearing aids are probably the first thing that you think about when you consider assistive devices for hearing loss. However, there are other tools and devices that can help you get more from your hearing. Improve your experience of the world around you with the ideas below.
Hearing aids can be useful for many people with hearing loss. Whether you have mild hearing loss or more severe hearing loss, hearing aids can help you in different ways. They might be able to help you hear most noises around you, or they can give you enough assistance to make the world safer for you if you have more serious hearing loss. Hearing aids don’t restore your natural hearing, but they do amplify sound directly into your ears. You can have a single hearing aid for one ear or bilateral hearing aids that are capable of working together.
There are different types of hearing aids, which are various styles and sizes. Conventional hearing aids include BTE hearing aids (behind-the-ear), ITC hearing aids (in-the-canal), IIC hearing aids (invisible-in-canal), and CIC hearing aids (completely-in-canal). Some options are more visible than others. For example, BTE hearing aids have the main parts in a case worn behind the ear, while invisible-in-canal hearing aids are worn inside the ear canal and are barely visible. In addition to conventional hearing aids, you might come across other options. These include bone-anchored hearing aids for people with conductive hearing loss. They are attached to an implant, which is inserted into the bone behind the ear.
Personal Sound Amplification Products
An alternative to hearing aids that some people consider is a personal sound amplification device or product (PSAP). These are low-cost, over-the-counter hearing devices, which provide a cheaper option compared to hearing aids. They are general sound amplifiers, which often look like hearing aids or might be a device attached to earphones or headphones. However, unlike hearing aids, they are not tailored to the individual person’s hearing. It is a little like buying a pair of reading glasses off the shelf, instead of buying prescription lenses. These devices can be suitable for some people, especially those who lose their hearing a little as they get older. However, they’re not right for everyone.
Assistive Listening Devices
An assistive listening device is designed to amplify sounds around you and is used with hearing aids or cochlear implants. One example of an assistive listening device is a hearing loop or induction loop. This transmits sound using electromagnetic energy and can be used together with a T-coil, which many modern hearing aids feature. A hearing loop can be connected to a public address system, television or another sound source. You might notice a sign with an ear with a diagonal line and a T in public places. This indicates that if you switch on your T-coil, you can connect to their information or audio system.
People who have hearing loss might have trouble hearing many everyday sounds, such as their alarm clock, the doorbell ringing or the oven beeping. There are various devices that can solve this problem by alerting you to things in different ways. Some alerting devices use lights; for example, to let you know that someone has rung the doorbell or the fire alarm is sounding. Others might use vibration, such as an alarm clock that vibrates on your wrist or on your bed to let you know it’s time to get up.
Thanks to modern technology, many people find that there are mobile apps that can help them with their hearing loss. They can help in a number of ways, including translating speech to text. Some apps can help you to make phone calls, either through text relay or by giving you access to a sign language interpreter. There are also apps that can help you to use your phone as a sound amplifier, plus apps that you can use to measure the loudness of sounds in the environment around you.
Many tools can help you when you have hearing loss, improving your experience of the world around you, and helping you to understand people more easily.