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?
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
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 HearingLink.org
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.