What are Assistive Listening Devices?
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that can be used along with your hearing aids to enhance your listening experience and provide extra help in challenging listening situations. ALDs can help you hear better while having a conversation on the phone, watching television, attending live events and even help you hear your alarm clock in the morning. While ALDs are not a replacement for hearing aids, they can be used when hearing aids do not provide enough amplification, or when hearing aids cannot be used at all, due to physical limitations.
There are many different types of assistive listening devices available on the market today and they are commonly split into four different groups: amplified telephones, notification systems, personal amplifiers, and TV streamers.
Amplified telephones are by far the most common type of ALD. Amplified telephones are used to help those who struggle to hear when talking on the phone. Amplified telephones offer an adjustable volume setting and adjustable tone control to help you hear speech more clearly. They also have an extra loud ringer volume, making sure calls are never missed.
Amplified telephones can be found in a range of styles, offering features like built-in speaker phone and memory-dial buttons. Amplified telephones are best used with hearing aids and are designed for those with mild to severe hearing loss.
Notification systems are devices that take the place of the alarms in our home, such as alarm clocks, doorbells and smoke detectors. These devices are not only used to improve quality of life but are important for safety. Notification systems use amplified sounds, visual light cues or vibration to notify you of your surroundings.
Amplified alarm clocks
Amplified alarm clocks provide an extra loud alarm that can be adjusted to your own personal waking sound level. Many amplified alarm clocks also come with a pillow shaker, which can be paired with the extra loud alarm or used separately. The pillow shaker vibrates your pillow and can be used for those who will miss even the loudest sounding alarm or to simply avoid disturbing others in the room.
Alert systems use a built-in lamp flasher and light to alert you to the alarm clock, doorbell or telephone ringing. These can also be used with smoke detectors and help ease concern of not hearing your smoke alarm during sleep when hearing aids are not worn.
A personal sound amplifier is a device to help you hear when having a conversation with one other person. The device consists of a microphone attached to headphones. The microphone is held by whomever is speaking, and the headphones are worn by the listener.
The listener can adjust the volume of the amplifier to a comfortable level using a simple volume wheel. Personal amplifiers are suitable for those with moderate to severe hearing loss and can be used with or without a hearing aid.
Enjoying TV can be difficult for someone with hearing loss. Often, increasing the volume can bother others around, making the balance between too quiet and too loud impossible to find. TV listeners or streamers help those who cannot hear the TV when it is at a reasonable volume, while also providing noise reduction for others nearby.
The streamer connects to the TV using a standard plug-in and uses radio waves to wirelessly transmit the sound from the TV to a headset. Using this headset, the sound from the TV can be amplified to the listener's liking, allowing everyone else to adjust the TV volume to a level that is comfortable for them. While larger and less versatile than Bluetooth streaming available on most hearing aid models, a TV streamer is useful for those who cannot wear a hearing aid while watching TV due to physical limitations.
While assistive listening devices are not replacements for hearing aids, they are supplemental for those who need extra help in specific listening situations. Assistive listening devices are easy to install and use and can be found in many hearing retailers. Be sure to talk to your local hearing healthcare professional or schedule a hearing test to find the best option for your listening needs.