Assistive Listening Devices

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are personal amplification devices that help aid in hearing, but exclude hearing aids. ALDs can be used together with hearing aids or on their own to help amplify sound. ALDs also refer to alerting devices such as alarm clocks, fire alarms, door bells and kitchen timers. Though many ALDs are used by clients with hearing loss, they are also a popular option for clients that do not have hearing loss and do not wear hearing aids.

There are many different ALDs on the market, but there are five in particular which are the most popular.

  • Personal amplifiers
  • FM systems
  • Infrared systems
  • Induction loop systems
  • Bluetooth

FM system

One of the most common assistive listening devices used to aid in listening in the presence of background noise is called a frequency modulated (FM) system. A microphone is either built-in or attached to the transmitter which picks up the speech signal and broadcasts it to the FM receiver, worn by the recipient (person listening). An FM system improves the signal-to-noise ratio (i.e., the speech signal becomes more pronounced than the background noise). Many hearing aid wearers feel there are several advantages to wearing an FM system paired with their hearing aids for added benefit in situations where they continue to struggle with background noise. However, those with typical hearing (i.e., no hearing loss) can benefit from FM systems as well. Imagine not having to strain to hear above background noise, or being able to comfortably listen to a speaker’s voice without ambient noise.  

Widespread use of ALDs have been implemented with school age children to give them a ‘listening boost’ in the classroom. As technology continues to develop, smaller, more discrete FM systems are being offered for children and adults to wear on a regular basis. FM systems provide significant advantages in giving clients the ability to receive spoken messages in a number of difficult listening situations, and have many applications in daily use.

  • Noisy restaurants
  • Group conversations or meetings
  • Car rides
  • Cocktail parties
  • TVs, stereos, iPods, and cellphones 
  • Guided tours and travel groups
  • Sports and extracurricular lessons
  • Lectures, speeches, and educational settings
  • Places of worship

Bluetooth Options:

Bluetooth hearing aids wirelessly connect to your smartphone, TV, computer, tablet and more – allowing you to stream audio directly to your hearing aids. Bluetooth hearing aids stream high quality sound wirelessly from your electronic devices.

Bluetooth connectivity does not make your hearing aids perform better, but it allows you to connect your hearing aids with any bluetooth-enabled electronic device and make their use easier for you.

Here are the main advantages:

  • Watching TV: By streaming the TV audio directly to your hearing aids, the chance of reverberation is eliminated and even better there is no need for bulky headphones! You can also adjust the hearing aid volume readily instead of having to adjust the TV each time.

  • Phone conversations: Bluetooth hearing aids make talking on the phone easy without any whistling from the hearing aid because you will not need to hold the phone receiver up to your ear.
  • Listening to music: Enjoy your favorite music streamed directly to your hearing aids, without wearing uncomfortable headphones!

Additionally, streaming audio from your electronic devices to your hearing aids will filter out background noise and allow you to fully enjoy the sounds you really want to hear without any whistling. You can be having a phone conversation while strolling through the park, or driving in your car because it can all be done hands-free and without the bothersome presence of background noise and environmental sounds.

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