Devices Offering Great Solutions (DOGS)

Assistive Listening Systems

A device to make sound louder and bring it directly to the ear.

What does it do?

Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are small amplifiers that bring sound directly to the ear of the user.  They separate the sounds, particularly speech, that a person wants to hear from background noise—improving the “speech to noise ratio”.  They can be used with or without hearing aids or a cochlear implant.  These devices help improve hearing during phone conversations, in theatres or a lecture hall, during tv shows or movies, in places of worship, and have many other everyday uses. A single transmitter can send the same sound to many receivers, making it good for group settings.

What kinds of assistive listening systems are there?

FM System

An FM System is a wireless assistive hearing device that transmits sounds directly from the source. This type of ALD can be used on its own or to improve the use of hearing aids or a cochlear implant. It is available from companies like Williams Sound.

Hearing Induction Loop

A hearing loop, or induction loop, uses telecoils to magnetically transmit sound directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants through a magnetic field. They work to reduce background noise and other competing sounds in loud environments. These systems use a wire or flat copper tape installed on the floor of a venue. Learn more at HearingLoop.Org

Infrared System

An infrared hearing system is a popular alternative to an induction loop system. A typical system consists of an audio source, an infrared radiator (transmitter), and infrared listening receivers. Learn more at

WiFi-Based Systems

WiFi assisted listening allows you to use your phone or other WiFi-enabled devices to connect to a network and listen to an audio broadcast. This is great for people with Bluetooth earbuds, or those who prefer not to use a pack. Companies like Listen Tech help design these assistive listening solutions.

Blue sign indicating that a t-coil hearing loop is available

How do I see what's new?

Technology changes all the time. To find out about the latest options for these, you can type keywords into a search engine such as Google, Safari, Firefox, or Bing on a computer or tablet. These are the keywords for this type of item:

FM listening systems, hearing loop, amplification system

How do I find out more?

If you live in the US outside of Pennsylvania you would need to find your state's AT program.

If you live in Pennsylvania:

  • you could contact TechOWL to work with a specialist. We can meet with you and sometimes demonstrate this equipment. We can also help with different ways to get one for your own.
  • you might borrow this equipment to try out. Do we have this in our lending library?


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Stacy Phillips

Stacy Phillips is the Project Coordinator of Assistive Technology Programs for the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. Her responsibilities include coordinating assessments for adults with intellectual disabilities who are deaf under the "Harry M" waiver, Outreach Coordination for the National DeafBlind Equipment Distribution Program known as iCanConnectPA, and conducting assistive technology device demonstrations for individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Stacy is also the Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania DeafBlind Advisory Committee.

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