An assistive listening device (ALD) can significantly improve your ability to understand your surroundings and communicate in a variety of everyday situations, such as one-on-one conversation, movies, meetings, and school. Most ALDs can be used in conjunction with hearing aids or by themselves, and they can significantly reduce the effects of distance, background noise, poor acoustics, and other environmental factors.
Assistive listening devices can be beneficial for those who suffer from recent hearing loss as well as those who are pre-lingually or culturally deaf who wish to enhance their ability to hear environmental and speech sounds. Dr. Venkatesh, or Dr. McGrath will help you determine which type of ALD is best-suited to your type of hearing loss, occupation, and lifestyle.
Assistive listening devices essentially act as amplifiers that carry sound directly to the ear and separate it from background noises. They improve what is known as the speech-to-noise ratio — that is, the relative volume of speech as compared to that of prevalent background noises. It is estimated that people with hearing loss require an increase in volume of about 15 to 25 decibels in order to understand speech and other sounds with the same ease as those with normal hearing. ALDs allow people with hearing loss to make up for this gap and amplify sounds to a level that is comfortable for them.
There are three main types of assistive listening devices, all of which are considered very helpful for persons suffering from hearing loss. ALDs generally utilize FM, infrared, or inductive loop technology to amplify and filter sounds for their users.
Personal Frequency Modulation (FM) Systems – These systems utilize radio broadcast technology and act much like miniature, personalized radio stations. The personal FM system consists of a microphone used by the speaker (a professor, pastor, or employer, for example) and a receiver used by the listener. Personal FM systems are not available off-the-shelf and must be dispensed by a professional audiologist.
Infrared Systems – These systems use infrared light waves to transmit sound information from a television set, movie theater, or, as with personal FM systems, a person speaking in a large group setting. Infrared systems are ideal for family TV viewing, since the volume can be set to a level that is comfortable for all family members and amplified only for the person(s) with limited hearing.
Induction Loop Systems – These systems use an electromagnetic field to deliver sound to their users, and they can only be used by persons who have a hearing aid with a telecoil. An induction loop wire is installed (usually under the floor or carpet) that connects to the person speaking. Every time he or she speaks, a current is created in the wire that, in turn, creates an electromagnetic field in the room. When you turn your hearing aid on to the “T” (telecoil/telephone) setting, you will pick up the signal and hear the speaker clearly.
One-on-One Personal Amplifiers – These systems are used to aid their wearers in face-to-face and small group conversations. They are ideal for use in restaurants, in nursing homes, in school settings, or at home. The speaker talks directly into a small microphone and the sound information is delivered straight to the user’s headset or hearing aid. These systems eliminate the need for shouting and can help maintain the privacy of both the listener and the speaker.
To learn more about the styles and brands of assistive listening devices that we offer, contact Hearing Solutions of Arizona today. Dr. Venkatesh, or Dr. McGrath will be happy to discuss your options with you and recommend an ALD that best meets your needs.