All About Assistive Listening Devices

All About Assistive Listening Devices

In Hearing Aid Technology, Hearing Aids by Bary E. Williams Au.D.

When you think of hearing assistance, you probably think of hearing aids right away. Indeed, hearing aids that fit in and around your ears are the most common form of technology for assistive listening. They have advanced remarkably in the recent years, and most hearing aids now use Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) to transform the sound of the world into something that is even easier to understand and enjoy. Although hearing aids are the most common tool to assist the listening process, they are not alone. Other technologies are available to help you with listening at home and while you are away. Let’s consider a few of these other options, as well as what might be right for you. The only way to know which assistive listening devices are suited to your needs is to get a thorough diagnosis of your hearing condition, and our hearing health professionals will be happy to help you on the way to assistance. 

Assistive Listening Devices at Home

Many of the most useful assistive listening devices can be purchased and installed right at home. These devices make it possible to be safe and to communicate when you need to do so. Telephones tend to be very difficult for those who have hearing loss, and hearing aids can even produce a feedback effect with some phones. Assistive telephones can produce a highly amplified sound from the receiver, and they can even transform voice to text with a screen reader. Some televisions can become assistive listening devices, as well. Some of these are compatible with your hearing aids through Bluetooth connectivity. They effectively send the audio from your television directly to your hearing aids to bypass playing a loud sound in the room. Other televisions come with devoted headsets that can be worn to play a high volume that doesn’t bother others at home. Assistive listening devices can be useful in an emergency, as well. Fire alarms that have flashing lights are a good way to provide multisensory information, and vibrating alarm clocks can help you wake up even then the sound of the bell isn’t enough to rouse you. 

Assistive Listening Devices in Public

Your hearing aids are very useful out and about in the world, but there are other listening technologies that can help you, as well. An early innovation in assistive listening that continues to help many people is called a telecoil or hearing “loop.” This technology includes a wire loop that is installed in the floor of a building or public place, and many city halls, courthouses, school auditoriums, and theaters have these accommodations in place. This loop connects with the audio from a speaker at a lectern, microphone, or other central location. Anyone within the loop who has a telecoil receiver can get an amplified signal from that microphone. Telecoils are present in most hearing aids, but they are also part of cochlear implants and specially designed telecoil receivers that are available in the places. Other assistive listening devices are available in public places, as well. FM receivers use radio waves to send audio to those who can receive them, and headsets are available to offer this assistance. Infrared systems actually use light waves to send audio signals, and they require users to sit in a straight line connected to the sound source out of direct sunlight. 

If any of these assistive listening devices sound appealing to you, why not make an appointment to talk with one of our hearing health professionals about your options. As you can see, many of these devices are compatible with hearing aids, and you will want to get aids that use Bluetooth connectivity to integrate with these other systems when possible. If you frequent a public place, you can also ask about the accommodations they offer for those with hearing impairment. The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that public places offer assistance to those with hearing needs, so you can get in touch with the accommodations specialist at that location for more information. Don’t put off getting the assistance you need any longer. We can help connect you with hearing aids or other assistive listening devices to improve your communication and quality of life. 

Bary E. Williams Au.D.