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Assistive Listening Devices

For all situations

Hearing is not an all or nothing phenomenon. People show varying degrees of hearing at varying frequencies in both ears. The implications of this fact are often overlooked for a variety of reasons that include a lack of understanding about modern technology that improves access to sound. This article is written from the perspective that Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) can benefit many hearing aid and cochlear implant users.

Just what are ALDs?

Why Are ALDs Necessary?

Can deaf people use ALDs?

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are essentially amplifiers that bring sound directly into the ear.  They separate the sounds, particularly speech, that you need to hear from background noise and improve what is known as the “speech to noise ratio.”

Research indicates that people who are hard of hearing require a volume (signal to noise ratio) increase of about 15 to 25 dB in order to achieve the same level of understanding as people with normal hearing.  An ALD allows you to achieve this gain for yourself without making it too loud for everyone else.

Yes.  ALDs are used by people with all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound and includes hearing aid users and cochlear implant users. ALDs are sometimes described as “binoculars for the ears” because they “stretch” hearing aids and cochlear implants, thus extending their reach and increasing their effectiveness.

Where Do People Use ALDs?

What Types of ALD are There?

What Are The Basic Parts of an ALD?

ALDs help address listening challenges in three ways:  minimising background noise; reducing the effect of distance between the sound source and the deaf or hard of hearing person; and overriding poor acoustics such as echo.

ALDs utilise FM, infrared, or inductive loop technologies.  The technology that is right for you will be selected based on your lifestyle and hearing needs. You need to discuss your specific requirements with your Help in Hearing audiologist.

Each ALD has at least three components:  a microphone, a transmitter and a receiver to bring the sound directly to the ear.

What Are FM Systems?

What Are Infrared Systems?

What Are Inductive Loop Systems?

FM systems are ALDs that use radio broadcast technology, often used in educational settings and offer mobility and flexibility when used with portable transmitters. Some newer FM systems utilise miniaturised receivers that fit onto a hearing aid.”


Infrared systems are ALDs that utilise light-based technology. They are the appropriate choice for situations that require confidentiality. They are frequently installed in places of entertainment and often utilised for use in listening to TV.

Wide area loop systems utilise an electromagnetic field to deliver sound.  They offer convenience to groups of t-coil hearing aid users and can be used by non-hearing aid users through the use of a headphone and inductive loop receiver.

How can I find out more?

Just contact Help in Hearing. Our audiologist consultants have extensive experience in ALDs and can advise you on the best route to follow designed specifically for your hearing.

* Adapted from “Benefits of Assistive Listening Systems” by David Baquis

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