Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Hearing problems and hearing technology solutions. Ultrasound. Deafness. Advancing age and hearing loss. Soundwave and equalizer bars with human ear

Are you familiar with what a cyborg is? You likely imagine a half human, half machine when you think of a cyborg, particularly if you enjoy science fiction movies (these characters are usually cleverly utilized to touch on the human condition). You can get some really fantastic cyborgs in Hollywood.

But actually, somebody wearing something as simple as a pair of glasses could be considered a cyborg. The glasses, after all, are a technology that has been incorporated into a biological process.

The human experience is usually enhanced using these technologies. So you’re actually the coolest kind of cyborg around if you’re using an assistive listening device. And the best thing is that the technology doesn’t stop there.

Hearing loss negative aspects

Hearing loss certainly comes with some disadvantages.

When you go to the movies, it can be difficult to keep up with the plot. Understanding your grandkids 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 affected.

The world can become really quiet if your hearing loss is neglected. This is where technology comes in.

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! The question might arise: exactly what are assistive listening devices? Is there someplace I can go and purchase one of these devices? What challenges will I face?

These questions are all normal.

Usually, hearing aids are what we think of when we consider hearing aid technology. That’s logical, as hearing aids are an essential part of dealing with hearing loss. But hearing aids aren’t the only kind of assistive hearing device. And, used properly, these hearing devices can help you more completely enjoy the world around you.

What are the different kinds of assistive listening devices?

Induction loops

Induction loops, also known as hearing loops, use technology that sounds really complex. Here are the basics: places with hearing loops are usually well marked with signage and they can help people with hearing aids hear more clearly, even in noisy areas.

A speaker will sound clearer due to the magnetic fields in a hearing loop. Here are a few examples of when an induction loop can be helpful:

  • Locations that tend to be noisy (including waiting rooms or hotel lobbies).
  • Places with bad acoustic qualities like echoes.
  • Events that rely on amplified sound (like presentations or even movies).

FM systems

These FM systems are similar to a walkie-talkie or radio. In order for this system to function, you need two elements: a transmitter (usually a microphone or sound system) and a receiver (often in the form of a hearing aid). FM systems are great for:

  • Conferences, classrooms, and other educational events.
  • Courtrooms and other government or civil buildings.
  • 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).
  • Anyplace that is loud and noisy, particularly where that noise makes it challenging to hear.

Infrared systems

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). Here are some examples where IR systems can be helpful:

  • Scenarios where there is one primary speaker at a time.
  • Indoor environments. IR systems are frequently impacted by strong sunlight. As a result, indoor settings are usually the best ones for this type of technology.
  • People who have cochlear implants or hearing aids.

Personal amplifiers

Personal amplifiers are a lot like less specialized and less robust versions of a hearing aid. They’re generally made of a speaker and a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds and amplifies them through a speaker. Personal amplifiers come in several different types and styles, which might make them a confusing possible solution.

  • Your basically putting a very 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, speak with us about it first.
  • For individuals who only need amplification in certain circumstances or have very minor hearing loss, these devices would be a practical option.

Amplified phones

Hearing aids and phones often have difficulty with one another. Sometimes there’s feedback, sometimes things become a bit garbled, sometimes you can’t have a hard time getting the volume quite right.

One solution for this is an amplified phone. These devices allow you to have control of the volume of the phone’s speaker, so you can make it as loud or quiet as you want, depending on the situation. These devices are good for:

  • Individuals who only have a hard time understanding or hearing conversations over the phone.
  • When multiple people in a home use a single phone.
  • People who don’t have their phone synced to their Bluetooth hearing aid (or who don’t have Bluetooth offered on either their hearing aids or their primary telephone).

Alerting devices

Sometimes called signalers or notification devices, alerting devices use lights, vibration, or sometimes loud noises to get your attention when something occurs. When the microwave bings, the doorbell dings, or the phone rings, for instance. This means even if you aren’t using your hearing aids, you’ll still be aware when something around your home or office requires your attention.

Alerting devices are an excellent option for:

  • Anybody whose hearing is completely or almost completely gone.
  • Home and office settings.
  • When alarm sounds such as a smoke detector could create a hazardous situation.
  • When you take breaks from your hearing aids.


So the link (sometimes discouraging) between your hearing aid and phone becomes evident. The feedback that occurs when two speakers are put in front of each other is not pleasant. When you hold a hearing aid next to a phone, the same thing happens.

A telecoil is a way to bypass 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 good for:

  • Anyone who isn’t connected to Bluetooth in any way.
  • Anyone who uses hearing aids.
  • Anybody who frequently talks on the phone.


Closed captions (and subtitles more broadly) have become a normal way for people to enjoy media nowadays. Everybody uses captions! Why? Because they make it a little easier to understand what you’re watching.

When you have hearing loss, captions can work in conjunction with your hearing aids, helping you understand mumbled dialogue or making sure you can follow your favorite show even when there’s distracting conversation near you.

The rewards of using assistive listening devices

So, now your biggest question may be: where can I buy assistive listening devices? This question indicates a recognition of the advantages of these technologies for individuals who use hearing aids.

To be sure, not every solution is right for every person. For example, you might not need an amplifier if you have a phone with good volume control. If you don’t have the right type of hearing aid, a telecoil might be useless to you.

But you have choices 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 movies or the conversation with your grandkids.

Some situations will call for assistive listening technology and others won’t. 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 personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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