If you experience hearing loss, you likely use hearing aids to navigate daily life. Hearing aids are highly effective devices that help absorb, amplify, and process sound. This provides significant support, allowing people to hear with greater quality and ease. Similar to most electronic devices, hearing aids have benefitted from advancements in technology and are more innovative than ever. This includes greater compatibility with assistive listening devices (ALDs) which are technologies that are designed to enhance hearing while engaging in specific activities like watching television, talking on the phone, listening to someone speak in a public venue etc.
There is a wide range of ALDs that are available that can be paired with hearing aids, maximizing sound quality and hearing capacity. To better understand the options available to you, here is a brief guide into hearing aids compatible assistive listening devices!
Also known as audio induction loops, hearing loops are designed to amplify sound in public venues. This type of sound system can be found in places like banks, airports, conference spaces, stadiums, classrooms etc. Hearing loops line the space which then creates a magnetic field or current that hearing aids can connect to through a small telecoil that is embedded in hearing aid devices. This allows the hearing aids to directly pick-up the audio signals in the space and automatically adjust to meet the wearer’s specific hearing preferences. Hearing loops allow people to better hear sound in places that can be noisier and more challenging to navigate. They are such an accessible and easy option. The wearer simply has to turn the telecoil feature on their hearing aid device when in the hearing loop-equipped space.
Amplified phones are particularly useful for talking on the landline. Landline phones can present challenges for hearing aid wearers, often causing feedback issues or creating an echo. Amplified phones address these issues and are specifically designed for people with hearing impairments. They amplify the sounds on the phone and allow people to easily adjust the volume settings. Amplified phones also reduce feedback noises and make it easier to hear high pitch sounds. There are also telecoil specific amplified phones which work in a similar way as hearing loops. By turning on the telecoil option on the hearing aid device, it picks up the sound from the phone. This is a great way to reduce background noise and hone in on the person’s voice on the phone.
FM systems are not a new innovation for hearing aids but can be really effective, especially in loud settings. The FM system essentially uses radio waves to send amplified sounds to hearing aids. A microphone used by the speaker emits soundwaves that are picked up by a receiver used by the hearing aid wearer. This receiver can be embedded hearing aid devices or be separate (headphones or neck loop). FM systems are a useful way for sound to be absorbed by hearing aids in both ears, they can also block out background noise. You are likely familiar and have used this technology if you have ever used a headset provided during a guided tour!
Another type of assistive listening devices are personal amplifiers which may not be as common or needed with advanced hearing aid devices. Personal amplifiers are handheld devices with a microphone which amplifies sound that is absorbed by a receiver (likely built into hearing aids or neck loop). This type of ALD is better for smaller settings and individual conversations.
In addition to ALD’s there are more technologies that allow you to integrate hearing aids into your life easily, offering convenience and an enhanced experience. This includes Bluetooth technology which allows hearing aids to wirelessly connect to other electronic devices (smartphone, laptop, speaker etc.). This allows hearing aids to directly stream audio from other sources which makes sound clearer, sharper, and easier to hear.
Bluetooth technology also makes it much easier to maneuver between devices without posing challenges to your hearing ability. If you are interested in ALDS and the latest hearing aid technology, consult with us to navigate the wide range of options available to you!