Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive listening devices are personal amplifiers used by people with hearing disabilities to better understand sounds and speech. It is used by people with mild hearing loss who do not have a hearing aid, and those who wish to enhance what their hearing aids can do.
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are helpful in a variety of situations. They can be used to help you hear the TV, phone, a lecture, conversation in an environment with a busy background, and many other situations where the listener would have trouble perceiving what is being said. They are helpful in meetings, churches, restaurants, movie theaters, retail stores, airports, and other places where distracting background noise drowns out speech.
While hearing aids have undergone impressive technological improvements in recent years, they don’t work ideally in every situation, particularly those in which there is excessive background noise. That’s because the microphone is usually integrated into the unit, rather than in the vicinity of the speaker; turning up the volume will result in amplification of all sounds, including background noises.
ALDs work by broadcasting signals to a handheld FM receiver, which the user can tune into and listen at a volume level comfortable to that person. They enable the user to differentiate the sounds they need to hear from distracting background noise. The devices include a microphone to capture sound, a transmitter to send the signal over an FM frequency, and a receiver to broadcast the signal. Most ALDs nowadays rely on wireless technology and are Bluetooth compatible for use with a cell phone, TV, computer, etc.
Hearing loss is complicated, and many solutions exist. Speak with your audiologist to learn whether you’ll benefit most from a hearing aid, an assistive listening device, or a combination of the two.