Assistive Living Devices
Assistive listening devices are portable amplifiers that enable individuals with hearing loss to hear more clearly. They deliver sound directly to the ear, enabling the listener to separate speech from background noise. They may be used with hearing aids or cochlear implants, or on their own.
ALDs Can Help in Special Situations
Assistive listening devices contain three separate components: a microphone, transmitter, and receiver. The microphone is placed next to the speaker, and sounds are broadcast from the transmitter to the receiver and directly into the hearing aid, cochlear implant or the listener’s ears. ALDs may utilize a variety of technologies for sound transmission, including FM systems, infrared systems and inductive loop systems.
As effective as hearing aids and cochlear implants are, they have limitations in a number of special situations. Because sound fades over distance, when the sound source is a good deal away, it can be difficult to hear the person speaking, or understand what he or she is saying. Noisy backgrounds can negatively impact your ability to comprehend speech, as well. And when the acoustics are poor, sound waves can bounce off hard surfaces, leading to reverberation and distortion. Large, open rooms with sparse furnishings can be troublesome, too.
Hearing aids are less effective in these environments because when you turn up the volume, you are also amplifying all background noise. With an ALD, you have the ability to separate these sounds by turning up the volume on the speaker only.
ALDs can be used at home, on the job, in the classroom, and out on the town. Typical settings include meetings, lectures, church services, movie theaters, restaurants and public buildings. They are effective for all types of hearing loss, from mild to profoundly deaf.