Hearing Aid Compatible Assistive Listening Devices

November 10, 2020

Hearing Aid Compatible Assistive Listening Devices
 
Dr. Darcy Benson
Latest posts by Dr. Darcy Benson (see all)

The innovation of hearing aid technology in recent years has significantly enhanced user experience. There is such a wide range of features and options that allow hearing aids to easily integrate into your daily life and maximize your hearing in all of the environments you navigate. 

In addition to hearing aids, there are numerous types of assistive listening devices that support hearing. Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are devices that are also designed to help hearing in specific settings. There are ALDs that are compatible with hearing aids which strengthen sound quality, making it easier to hear in more challenging contexts. ALDs can help you hear more effectively in public venues, while watching television, and on the phone. 

With all of the options available today, it can be overwhelming to identify what could work best for you. To better understand the terrain of ALDs, they can be divided into the following categories:  

Wireless Technology 

Using Bluetooth technology, hearing aids can wirelessly connect to other electronic devices such as smartphone, speaker, laptop etc. Connecting wirelessly allows the audio to be streamed directly into your hearing aids. This sharpens sound quality and improves listening experiences while watching television, listening to a podcast, having a conversation on your phone etc. This is a really useful way to integrate your devices and easily shift between them. This option is incredibly beneficial because it works for multiple devices. Wireless technology is convenient and allows people with hearing loss to hear much more clearly. 

 

Hearing Loops

Also referred to audio induction loops is hearing aid technology that amplifies sound in public settings. Hearing loops are specifically useful for navigating public venues (conferences, talks, readings, meetings etc.), airports, stadiums, theaters, classrooms, check out counters etc. A small telecoil is embedded in hearing aid devices that pick-up signals from the audio in a public space. It is then converted into a sound that is set to the user’s specific preferences.  Hearing loops are easy to use – you simply turn the Telecoil option on (on your hearing device) and can be used in a plethora of settings. They provide greater accessibility for people with hearing loss in environments that may be more challenging to hear in. 

 

Amplified Telephones

This is useful if you use a landline. Amplified telephones are designed for people with hearing loss and allow you to increase the volume to meet your hearing needs. They reduce feedback and other noises that make it challenging to hear, especially with hearing aids. Amplified phones work in the same way that hearing loops work. The telecoil option on your hearing aids picks up sound from the phone and converts it to meet your specific hearing needs.

 

FM Systems

Use radio waves to send amplified sounds to hearing aids. FM systems involve a microphone which emits soundwaves and a receiver. The receiver can be built-in to hearing aids or be separate (headphones or neck loop). A person speaks into a microphone and the listener’s receiver picks-up the audio through radio signals. You may already be familiar with this technology if you have used headsets in a guided tour!

 

Personal Amplifiers 

This option is better in smaller settings and may not be necessary if you use previously mentioned devices. Personal amplifiers are small (hand held) devices that have a microphone which amplifies the sound you are trying to hear and reduces background noise. The sound is absorbed by a receiver that the listener is wearing (hearing aids, headphones, earbuds). 

In addition to these types of ALDs, there is an array of technologies that assist with hearing. ALDs encompass any type of device and/or technology that supports hearing. Additional ALDs that could be useful to you are: 

  • Captioning services 
  • Voice recognition software
  • Alerting and/or notification systems 

If you are interested in assistive listening devices, we recommend that you consult with our team of hearing healthcare specialists who can guide you through your options. It is important to identify your hearing needs and discuss what could work best for you and your lifestyle! ALDs are designed to support and maximize your hearing and ability to navigate daily life with ease!