Assistive listening devices, or ALDs, are components and accessories that help people with hearing loss overcome challenging listening situations and communicate more effectively.
A wide variety of ALDs is available—some are meant to be used with (and complement) your hearing aids or cochlear implants, while others operate as standalone devices.
Assistive listening devices range in size from small personal units designed for individual use in situations where background noise interferes with speech comprehension, to large systems installed in public facilities that can be accessed by anybody wearing hearing aids with telecoil capabilities. Some of the more popular ALDs include:
- Alerting Systems. These devices allow hearing impaired users to recognize and depend on electronic devices others take for granted. Telephones include features such as visual (flashing lights) or vibrating ringers, adjustable ringtones, amplified handsets, talking keypads, caller ID and large backlit displays. Alarm clocks come with adjustable volume and tone controls and flashing lights; some even have the ability to vibrate the bed. Other devices that incorporate alerting features include doorbells, smoke detectors, answering machines and more.
- FM Systems. These units are comprised of a microphone, transmitter and receiver, and use radio signals to transmit amplified sounds directly to an individual’s hearing aids. They are helpful in public places where distance, background noise and poor acoustics can interfere with the ability to hear clearly, such as classrooms, restaurants, theaters and places of worship.
- Personal Amplifiers. Smaller FM systems that are used in environments where radio signals are less effective. Instead of placing the microphone on or in the vicinity of the speaker, the mic is built into the personal amplifier and aimed at the sound source to help capture speech. Typically used in intimate settings while watching TV, riding in the car, etc.
- Infrared Systems. These are similar to FM systems but utilize infrared light rather than radio waves to transmit sound. Because infrared beams of light cannot pass through walls, these are useful in settings where privacy is important, such as courtrooms and large multiplex movie theaters. Infrared systems prevent interference from competing broadcasts.
- Hearing (Induction) Loops. Hearing loops use electromagnetic energy to transmit sounds directly to a user’s hearing devices, and are becoming increasingly popular in large public facilities such as auditoriums, airports and churches. Hearing loops consist of a sound source such as a PA system, an amplifier, a loop of wire, and a receiver or telecoil (the majority of hearing aids sold today include this feature). When the listener is nearby, they receive a clear signal free of distortion and background noise.
Timpanogos Hearing & Balance carries a large selection of assistive listening devices to help improve your communication experience. Contact us today for more information.