Assistive Listening Devices

We're all about hearing aids here at Oregon Hearing Centers. But some situations call for a different solution. That's where assistive listening devices can help.

Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are any device other than hearing aids that directly amplify the sound to help a deaf or hard hearing person communicate more effectively. They send sound directly to a person wearing a sound receiver (hearing aid, headphone, neck loop, etc.).

The benefits of an ALD over a hearing aid

Background noise issues in one-on-one and group communication are reduced by using ALDs. They often assist the individual in hearing and interpreting important sounds by transmitting the sound signal directly to the individual's ears, eliminating the distress associated with being exposed to unwanted background noises.

Hearing aids can help improve the perception of speech sounds. Still, they are less effective at separating background noise from spoken words. ALDs can compensate for poor performance in a variety of listening circumstances, including:

  • Sounds from a distance. When we step away from the source, sound fades, making conversations more difficult to understand.
  • Situations where the acoustics are bad. Listening is difficult in large, open spaces and rooms with minimal furnishings. Hard surfaces tend to reflect sound waves, causing reverberation and echo.
  • Background noise. Background noise creates disturbances, making it impossible to concentrate on what is being said. When hearing aid users encounter difficulties in these cases, they have no choice but to raise the volume. Regrettably, this contributes to the ambient noise. ALDs are designed to isolate conflicting sounds and raise only the volume of the speaker.

Places where you could benefit from an assistive listening device

Assistive listening devices are handy in public areas where sound sources are far away from the listener. Here are some examples of where they excel:

  • churches
  • restaurants
  • banks
  • political rallies
  • schools and universities
  • work conferences
  • meeting rooms
  • while making phone calls
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Types of assistive listening device

ALDs for television use
This popular ALD allows people to watch TV at a volume that doesn't bother the rest of the family. A portable transmitter and a microphone are put next to the TV. The sound picked up by the microphone is transmitted directly to a receiver worn by the listener, with no volume reduction. These devices can transmit data over a long distance of up to 50 feet with minimal distortion.

Infrared systems
Sound is transmitted using light waves in infrared systems. This form of assistive listening device is most often used in theaters to watch television or movies. Still, it can also be used in courtrooms, art museums, and other public spaces.

Amplified telephones
A volume boost button is available on amplified phones, which raises the caller's voice volume. Depending on the model, users might also adjust the tone of the caller's voice.

Captioned telephones
One of the most recent innovations is the captioned telephone. They're made for people who have trouble using the phone because of their hearing loss. These devices use cutting-edge algorithms to capture what the person on the other end is saying and display the text on an easy-to-read screen.

Some also involve the use of a live captioning agent to assist with comprehension. The call is immediately connected to a captioning agent who will help transcription the request into a particular format. They use voice recognition and manual adjustments to turn the sound into captions. The combination of technology and human interaction allows detailed captions to better understand the other person's voice.

FM Systems
FM systems are the most popular ALD systems, which use radio signals to send amplified sounds directly to a receiver. They consist of a microphone, transmitter, and receiver. They can be used in several public places, including schools, restaurants, movie theaters, and churches. The speaker uses a microphone to transmit sound to the receiver, tuned to a particular frequency.

A telecoil is a part of a hearing aid that converts magnetic signals into sound. The user may receive vital information directly through their hearing aid in this manner. Telecoils can be used in any area where a loop system is mounted. Hearing loops are used in several public areas, from universities to airports.

With technology evolving rapidly, there will undoubtedly be many more innovative devices on the market in the coming years. In the meantime, it is best to arrange a visit with us to learn more about your hearing experience and to take advantage of the wide variety of today's available devices. We will determine your hearing loss level and your lifestyle to match you with the right hearing aid and assistive device.

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