Assistive Listening Devices
Hearing aids are excellent for amplifying speech sounds. While hearing aids do offer features that help reduce background noise, there are instances where it could be difficult to follow conversations in specific environments for individuals with hearing loss.
The most challenging situations for listening with hearing aids include:
Hearing a speaker from afar.
Over distance, sound fades. The further removed the sound source, the more difficult it is to hear and understand what is being said.
Tackling noisy backgrounds.
External noise can distract you from the person you want to hear. You can have trouble discerning speech when others are talking, or when you are dealing with the noise from ventilation systems, shuffling papers, TVs, traffic, etc.
Sound waves bounce off hard surfaces, which causes reverberation and distortion. Places with notoriously poor acoustics include wide, open spaces or sparsely furnished rooms.
Turning up the volume in these circumstances means turning up ALL the volume, including the background noise you are trying to stop. This not only increases the risk of hearing damage; it doesn’t help you hear what you need to hear.
This is where Assistive listening devices (ALDs) can help you.
Assistive listening devices (or systems) help people with hearing loss hear better through sound amplification and noise filtration. This enables people with hearing loss to listen, without disturbing others around them, to the louder volumes they need.
They differ in several ways:
They minimize background noise by improving the ratio of signal to noise.
They counteract bad acoustics such as echo in a room.
They reduce the distance between the sound source and the user.
All ALS systems work in the same way. They create an electronic connection between the listener and the audio source. A transmitter that encodes the sounds and sends them to receivers is connected to the sound source. In this way, individuals can move around as they like and not be tethered to the audio source.
Types of Assistive Listening devices
The most common ALD systems are FM systems, which rely on radio signals to transmit amplified sounds to your hearing aid directly. They are made up of a microphone, transmitter, and receiver and are used in several public locations, such as schools, restaurants, movie theaters, and churches.
The speaker wears a microphone and sends this sound signal to the receiver, tuned to a specific frequency.
Infrared devices transform infrared light into sound. Infrared systems include a device for generating infrared light and a device for receiving and interpreting infrared light. They receive and amplify sound much like an FM system. Infrared systems are used wherever the corresponding transmitters are installed. They are used anywhere from an auditorium to a theater.
A benefit of infrared systems is that, unlike FM systems, their signal cannot pass through walls. This avoids competing broadcasts that could hamper the listener and prevent the transmission of sensitive information. In courtrooms and large movie theaters, they are particularly useful.
A telecoil is a hearing aid feature that converts magnetic signals into sounds. This way, a user can receive important information straight into their hearing aid. Telecoils can be used wherever a loop system is installed in any environment. Everything from colleges to airports can include spaces that use hearing loops.
In smaller environments where radio signals are less efficient, personal amplifiers are used. They are mostly used while watching television, commuting by car, or spending time outdoors.
The microphone is built directly into the device. It is mostly directional, allowing you to target it in the direction of the sound source to more efficiently pick up the signal.
Amplified phones allow users to change the phone volume to suit their requirements. Features such as amplified ringers, telecoil compatibility, and portable amplifiers are also commonly provided by these phones.
Only Individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss will use these devices because they are not of great benefit to individuals with total or profound hearing loss.
If you are looking for extra help in your daily activities, contact us to learn more and about the types of ALDs we offer.