Communication Matters

Assistive Listening Devices Can Boost Your Hearing

Bridgid M. Whitford Au.D, CCC-A | Posted on April 25, 2018

When your hearing aids do not provide enough help in certain environments, or if you don’t wear hearing aids but need help hearing only in certain situations, you may want to consider an assistive or alerting device. Discuss with your audiologist which devices might be helpful to you. At CHSC, we offer a variety of devices and can you determine which is right for you.

An Assistive Listening Device (ALD) is any type of amplification device that can help you communicate more effectively. ALDs can be used with or without hearing aids and can improve hearing in the presence of background noise, listening on the phone or watching television, as well as hearing at a distance. When you use these devices, you may notice less stress and fatigue due to struggling to hear, and improved communication with others.

Examples of Listening Devices

  1. FM Systems consist of a microphone used by the speaker and a receiver (usually a small unit that hooks on the bottom of a behind-the-ear hearing aid or a neck loop) worn by the listener. The speech signal is transmitted from the microphone to the receiver on a special radio frequency and then the sound is transmitted to the hearing aid or headset. FM systems are available in many public places such as schools, theaters, museums, or places of worship – but can also be purchased for personal use.
  2. Personal one-to-one assistive listening devices (also called a Pocket Talker) have a small amplifier box, headphones, and a listening cord. Both the speaker and the listener share the device. The listener wears the headphones and the talker speaks into the microphone attached to the cord. These devices are generally used at relatively close distances and are ideal in cars, restaurants, small meetings or gatherings, or with the television. The listener can regulate the volume on the device to his/her need.
  3. Infrared systems are most commonly used with the television and send the TV sound using infrared light waves to a headset. The listener can then adjust the volume on the headset independently of the volume of the TV, so as not to affect others in the room.
  4. Induction Loop System is a permanent wired system. An induction loop wire is installed under the carpet or above the baseboard for example, and connects to a microphone used by the talker. The induction loop creates an electromagnetic field that delivers the sound to a telecoil in certain hearing aids. Users with “T-coil” hearing aids can adjust the volume on their devices as needed.
  5. Amplified devices have an amplifier built into the device. These include amplified phones, doorbells, alarm clocks, etc. The listener can adjust the volume to the desired level .

What is an Alerting Device?

An alerting device can be a visual (flashing light or text) or vibrating system that helps alert people to a sound they may not be able to hear. These systems can be used with or without hearing aids, or in combination with other assistive listening devices.

Examples of Alerting Devices

Closed-captioning for the TV. The dialogue of a program is displayed as text across the bottom of the screen.

Text telephones (TTY) A speaker types the phone conversation on the TTY, incoming messages are then read on the TTY display. The TTY can only communicate with another TTY device, or a relay service can be arranged.

Light signaler for alarm clocks, telephones, smoke detectors, and doorbells. A light is plugged into the device and it flashes when the designated sound is detected.

Vibrating signaler for wrist watches, timers, pillow alarms, baby monitors or alarm clocks. A signaler vibrates the device when the designated sound or alarm is detected.

Tags: Hearing Loss, Hearing, Hearing Aids, Communication, Audiology