Assistive Listening Devices: How Useful Are They?

Posted by:gulf onApril 8, 2017

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Assistive Listening Systems (ALSs), otherwise known as Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs), are used by people with hearing loss (mild or profound) to separate the sounds, speech in particular, that they want to hear from background noise. An ALS has three basic parts: a microphone, a transmission technology and a receiving device.

What are examples of ALSs?

  • Hearing Loop or Induction Loop System (used in churches, arenas, classrooms, etc.)
  • Transmitter/Receiver (commonly applies to FM systems, which use radio broadcast technology)
  • Infrared System (similar to FM systems but transmits sounds using light waves instead of radio waves)
  • Personal Audio Device (MP3 players, digital eBooks, portable game systems, etc.)
  • Phone
  • Bluetooth Device

How Do ALDs Differ From Hearing Aids?

It is important not to confuse ALDs from hearing aids. Hearing aids or cochlear implants may sometimes not be as effective as you need them to be in all situations. Thus, the function of ALDs is to extend the reach and effectiveness of hearing aids.

Latest Research on Assistive Technology

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) financially supports research on ALSs/ALDs which includes improved devices for people with hearing loss and improved devices for nonspeaking people (more natural synthesized speech and brain-computer interface research).

Below is a video showing a simulation of speech through a hearing aid and FM system:

Do note however that there are factors to consider when using a headset, earphone or other connector. Obviously, you cannot use an earplug when you are already wearing a hearing aid. Clarifying these issues with a hearing aid expert will allow you to choose the best ALD for your specific needs without sacrificing sound quality.

Gulf Coast Audiology offers devices for the TV, FM classroom amplification, telephone, body aids and sound alert devices for individuals who need more than hearing aids. Additionally, they can also provide you with the best and latest hearing instruments depending on your needs and other considerations. Find your perfect ALD and hear well again.

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