Individuals with hearing loss who have trouble following conversations because of background noise may benefit from assistive listening devices (ALDs). ALDs can be used in conjunction with hearing aids, or by themselves. They work well in situations where hearing aids alone are ineffective.
What Are the Parts of an Assistive Listening Device?
ALDs consist of a microphone, transmitter, receiver and listening attachment. The microphone is situated in close proximity to the person speaking, whereas it is typically built into a hearing aid. The transmitter relays speech to the receiver; from there it is sent to a hearing aid or the listening attachment. Assistive listening devices incorporate wireless technology and can be used with Bluetooth compatible electronic devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players, computers and televisions.
Oticon® Streamer Assistive Listening Devices
The California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) provides free telephones for the hearing impaired. For more information, please visit their website.
When Are ALDs Beneficial?
Hearing aids are great at amplifying speech, but less effective in separating background noise from spoken conversation. ALDs can compensate for poor performance in a number of listening situations, such as:
Distance. Sound fades the farther away the source, making it difficult to understand conversations.
Poor acoustics. Large, open spaces and rooms with limited furnishings make for poor listening environments. Sound waves tend to bounce off hard surfaces, causing reverberation and distortion.
Noisy backgrounds. Background noise produces distractions that make it difficult for you to concentrate on speech.
Hearing aid users have no choice but to turn up the volume when they have trouble hearing in these situations. Unfortunately, that also increases the background noises. ALDs are designed to separate competing sounds, and only increase the volume of the person speaking. They are especially helpful in classrooms, meetings, churches, movie theaters, restaurants and public buildings.