Hearing aids and cochlear implants do a lot to improve speech understanding. However, there are some situations that may be more demanding. These can include when listening in groups or in noisy backgrounds, hearing a speaker who is more than a few feet away, and hearing on the phone. In these conditions, turning up the volume can sometimes result in turning up the background noise that you don’t want to hear or distorting the clarity of what you do want to hear.
Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) are devices that provide additional hearing support in daily communications. ALDs can be used in conjunction with hearing aids or cochlear implants; there are also options for use on their own.
Often people with mild to moderate hearing loss use assistive listening devices to hear their television or cell phone better or to be able to hear the doorbell or a fire alarm. They are also available to help you hear better at the theater, church, and in other large group noisy situations.
ALDs can be personal amplifiers that attach to your MP3 player or laptop, loop receivers that fit around your neck, or TV amplifiers that are similar to headphones. Below you will see just a small sample of the devices that are available to help you hear better:
Induction loop systems are generally used in large group areas but can also be utilized on an individual scale.
Induction loop systems work primarily with hearing aids and allow an audio signal to be transmitted you by means of a magnetic field. An induction loop wire is a permanently installed system and connects to a microphone used by the speaker. The person’s voice talking into the microphone generates a current in the wire, which creates an electromagnetic field in the looped room. You then switch your hearing aid to the telecoil/telephone setting and the hearing aid telecoil picks up the electromagnetic signal. You can easily fine-tune the volume of the signal directly through your hearing aid.
Be aware that no all styles of hearing aids contain a telecoil, so not all hearing aids are compatible with the induction loop system.
Personal modulation (FM) systems:
These are like small radio stations working on very particular frequencies. A personal FM system consists of two main parts, a microphone and a receiver. The microphone is used by the speaker, like a teacher in the classroom, or the speaker at a meeting. The sound is then transmitted to a receiver used by you. The receiver transmits the sound, through harmless radio waves, to your ears or, if you wear a hearing aid, directly to the hearing aid. This can be accomplished, in some cases, even if the sound source/speaker is up to 50 feet away.
Infrared systems are most often used with television sets, but can also be used in larger settings like theaters.
In an infrared system, sound from the television is transmitted using infrared light waves. The infrared system is often known as a “line of sight” system since the receiver must be in line of sight of the emitter because infrared waves will not go through a solid object. In this system, sound is transmitted to a receiver, which you can adjust to your desired volume. The television can be set separately to a volume comfortable for any other viewers.
TV Ears is just one infrared assistive television device available.
One-to-One Communicators are used when communicating with one other individual or with a small group. They can be particularly useful in situation with a lot of background noise.
Sometimes in a restaurant, nursing home situation, or riding in a car, you want to be able to easily hear just one person. Or perhaps you are delivering a lecture or running a meeting and a person in the audience has a question. You can give the person a remote microphone to speak into. The sound is amplified and delivered directly into your hearing aid (or headset if you don’t have a hearing aid), and you can adjust the volume to your own comfort level.
Besides those described above, there are many other Assistive Listening Devices available, such as:
- Devices for amplifying cordless, cell, digital, and wired phones
- Amplified answering machines
- Amplified telephones with variable frequency responses
- Captioned telephones
- Loud doorbells
- Wake-up alarms (loud bell or vibrating clock)
- Visual signalers (for crying baby, carbon monoxide/smoke detector, doorbell, weather alerts, etc)
At Affinity Hearing we’ll work with you to identify your hearing needs and decide if an assistive listening device is right for you and, if so, which style or technology works best for you. We have many ALDs readily available in our office and numerous others that can be ordered and delivered within a day or two. Please call us at (763) 744-1190 if you have any questions.