When it comes to products on the market that help people with disabilities, particularly hearing loss, there are technological advantages on the market today. You can hear at home, school, work, or anywhere else you want to go with hearing assistive technology and assistive devices. A doctor will help you find the right device for you, but you can learn how you might be able to benefit from listening devices below to start learning what technology can offer.
What is Assistive Technology?
A piece of equipment, computer, software program, or other electronics can be used to improve your hearing abilities.
Hearing assistive technology includes devices that may help you hear in loud environments, such as busy restaurants or stores. There are even advances devices that can read your text messages to you, and most and be used along with your hearing aid or cochlear implant. Assistive devices aid hearing especially when echoes and other noise make it difficult for your hearing aid or implant to target sound.
People who have trouble with speech, memory, typing, writing, hearing, learning, or so many other disabilities can benefit from using these devices, and your doctor or speech therapist may think you could benefit from technology.
Some types of technology won’t cost much, but just as technology varies greatly, so do hearing devices. Your school or health insurance company may work together to pay for materials important for your education, especially if your doctor has prescribed the tech as a necessary medical device. Government programs and job training programs may also fund some of the cost for your device if it’s deemed essential for you to perform daily functions and tasks. Medicaid may pay a portion of your cost, or you may use private health insurance.
Types of Assistive Technology Devices
Several different types of assistive technology devices are available to improve sound and allow people with even a substantial amount of hearing loss to lead normal lives. Some types of technology are designed for classroom use while others can be used with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Most assistive listening devices amplify the sounds you want to hear while working to block background noise to aid your hearing. Common types of assistive listening devices are available at low cost and include the following.
Using radio signals, an FM system is similar to a tiny radio station in your ear running on its own frequency. In this system, a speaker wears a microphone and sends the signal to the receiver, which is on your ears or inside your hearing aid. Thus, the speaker’s voice is transported directly to your ear, making it easier for you to hear what’s being said. FM devices can be used anywhere.
Induction Loop Systems
Hearing loop systems use electromagnetic energy in order to transmit amplified sound from a receiver worn in the ear through a thin loop of wire. To hear, you must wear the receiver and be near the loop. The hearing loop can connect to a TV or audio source, so you can listen to music, and most are built into hearing aids and cochlear implants while some systems are portable.
Using infrared light to convert sound into a light signal and beam to the receive worn in your ear, the receiver can decode the signal from light back into sound and allow you to hear. This system also works well with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Unlike FM and induction loop systems, however, the signal can’t pass through walls which makes it better for confidential or sensitive information such as in a courthouse or a movie theater. They can’t be used outside though, as the light interferes.
Other Types of Assistive Technology Solutions
Other types of devices exist on the market today that can allow you to see or feel when something is happening around you rather than rely on your hearing. So, you may see a flashing light when the doorbell rings instead of a ding or an alarm clock may vibrate to wake you up in the morning. Visual systems can include:
- Text telephones – Instead of listening, you type the message and read replies
- Closed-captioned TV – Captions display the words in and show or movie you watch at the bottom of the screen, and most TVs already have built-in captioning capabilities for those with hearing problems
- Speech recognition programs – Working in conjunction with another form of technology, these programs work by changing speech into text you can read.
Types of assistive accessories for hearing around the home can also sometimes simply up the volume so you can hear, which helps with answering machines playback messages or talking on the phone. Common helpful devices around the home include the following: