What are Assistive Listening Devices?
An assistive listening device, or ALD, is any device or system that amplifies everyday sounds to overcome hearing difficulties caused by distance, background noise, or poor acoustics.
ALD’s can be used alone or in combination with hearing aids, depending on your level of hearing impairment and the intended use or setting. For example, amplified telephones – wired, cordless, cell and digital – help to improve reception, balance soft/loud sounds, and filter background noise, and offer other useful features, such as visual cues for incoming calls and messages. There are also amplifiers for TV’s, computers, answering machines, pagers and many other devices and appliances.
Other assistive technologies enable people to hear better in noisy environments by broadcasting sound directly from the source to the hearing-impaired listener. The best-known is the induction loop. “Looping” involves wiring an entire space, such as a TV room, classroom, or large public venue, to create an electromagnetic field that carries the primary sounds to a “telecoil” in hearing aids and other devices to help suppress the ambient noise that typically interferes with the listener’s ability to ‘tune in’ to a TV program or hear a teacher, public speaker, or performer more clearly.
Visual ALD Systems
- Text Telephones
- Computerized Speech Recognition
- Closed-captioning TV
There are also ALDs specifically geared to children. In addition to personal amplification devices, FM, sound field, and looping systems are common classroom hearing technologies and can be adapted to the home.
The audiologists at Oro Valley/ Tanque Verde Audiology and Tucson Audiologists can evaluate your child, recommend a hearing rehabilitation program, and advise on an appropriate combination of hearing aids and ALDs, as needed.
However, while assistive technologies can be very helpful, we do encourage you to consult with an audiologist before investing in any assistive device or system, for children or adults. Some ALD’s are more appropriate for people with severe impairment or deafness than those with mild hearing loss, and can involve extensive installation and require training and practice to master. Unfortunately, there are individuals and companies that advertise amplifiers and other devices that do not ‘assist’ as advertised.
We can also advise you on insurance coverage and financial assistance.