Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are portable systems that help individuals with hearing loss communicate more effectively. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sounds, ALDs work by separating speech from background noise. This allows the person with the hearing impairment to hear more clearly. Some ALDs are used in conjunction with hearing aids, while others work as standalone devices. ALDs are useful in a number of situations, primarily those involving distance, poor acoustics and noisy backgrounds.
Types of Assistive Listening Devices
There are several different types of ALDs available, for both large facilities and personal use. Some focus on amplifying speech, while others utilize computer programs to convert text to speech. Some of the different types include:
- FM Systems. FM systems rely on radio signals to transmit amplified sounds directly to your hearing aid. They consist of a microphone, transmitter and receiver, and are used in a variety of public places such as classrooms, restaurants, movie theaters and churches. The microphone is worn by the person speaking (or placed in close proximity to the sound source) and the signal is broadcast from the transmitter to the receiver, which is tuned to a specific frequency.
- Personal Amplifiers. Personal amplifiers are essentially small FM systems used in smaller, more intimate settings where radio signals are less effective; they are often used when watching television, traveling by car, or outdoors. The microphone is built directly into the unit, and is often directional, allowing you to aim it in the direction of the sound source in order to pick up the signal most effectively.
- Infrared Systems. Infrared systems work on the same principle as FM systems, but use infrared light instead of radio waves to transmit sound. The transmitter converts sound signals into light and beams those to the receiver, which then translates the light signal back into sound. An advantage to infrared systems is the fact that their signal is unable to pass through walls as it does with FM systems, eliminating competing broadcasts that might hamper the listener and preventing confidential information from being disseminated. They are particularly useful in courtrooms and large movie theaters.
- Hearing Loops. Hearing loop, or induction loop, systems utilize electromagnetic energy to transmit sound directly to your hearing aid or cochlear implant. They consist of a sound source (public address systems are popular), an amplifier, a loop of wire and a receiver or telecoil (t-coil), a tiny wireless receiver built into many devices. When you are in close proximity to the loop, you will receive clear sound free of background noise. Hearing loops can be connected to all types of audio sources, and are often set up in public facilities such as airports, churches and lecture halls.
- Alerting Devices. Alerting devices hook up to telephones, alarm clocks, doorbells and other electronic devices. They alert you through a loud sound or flashing light, making you aware of an incoming phone call, a visitor at the door, etc.
- TV·Ears®. TV·Ears allow the user to listen to their television as loudly as they want, without bothering those around them. The headset contains Voice Clarifying Circuitry, which is powered by an advanced microchip that instantaneously amplifies and clarifies television dialog while dampening background noises so you can hear clearly. Since their invention in 1998, TV·Ears have been known for their quality, clarity and ease of use.
- Amplified Telephones. These telephones come with a built-in amplification and tone control, which allows users to turn the volume up higher than a traditional phone and adjust the frequency of the caller’s voice to match their degree of hearing loss. There are a number of different telephones to choose from, depending on the amount of amplification you need.
- Pocket Talkers. These devices are able to both amplify the sounds closest to you and reduce background noises. They are ideal for one-on-one conversations and small group discussions. Pocket Talkers can be used with or without hearing aids.
Call Advanced Hearing Solutions at (858) 312-1327 for more information or to schedule an appointment.