Relying on an assistive listening device, or ALD, can make a positive impact in your life. These personal amplifiers separate sounds from background noise, making it easier to make out phrases in noisy environments. According to the National Association of the Deaf, most people with hearing loss require a speech-to-noise ratio increase of approximately 15-25 decibels to hear more clearly. ALDs can help allow people with hearing loss to achieve this ratio. Here are some things to know about assistive listening devices:
Types of ALDs
There are four types of ALDs. While they all have their benefits, some ALD technology is better for different situations than others:
- FM systems: FM systems use radio broadcast technology. These devices are common in classrooms, as students with hearing loss are able to hear the professor better. There are traditionally systems that are worn on the body, but newer technology also supports smaller systems that allow users to attach the devices to hearing aids.
- Infrared systems: These systems use light waves instead of radio waves. Typically used in private places like courtrooms or theaters, they’re ideal in environments that require privacy as light waves cannot travel out of the room.
- Induction loop systems: Induction loop systems utilize electromagnetic waves to deliver sound. These tools are ideal for people who use t-coil hearing aids because they negate the need for a receiver. However, people who do not use hearing aids can also benefit from Induction loop systems if they have a receiver. Users wear these receivers around their necks or as headsets.
- Bluetooth® systems: ALDs that utilize Bluetooth® technology are becoming more popular as smartphone use continues to expand. These devices allow users to talk or listen to their cellular devices, even if the device is not being held up to their ears. Bluetooth® technology is most useful when working with computers, phones and tablet-style devices, but it’s becoming more versatile as more and more devices support Bluetooth®.
Where to use ALDs
All of this information on assistive listening devices can be overwhelming if you’re not exactly sure where your ALD would work best. ALDs are useful in environments with a lot of background noise, but what kinds of places actually have ALD technology installed? According to the Northern Virginia Resource Center, the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires all public places that can house at least 50 people to provide an assistive listening system. Here are a few places where your ALD will be most useful:
- Cultural centers.
- Anywhere with tours.
- Your own living room or car.
Personal amplifiers are most beneficial for use in one-on-one conversations. These ALDs don’t require outside technology and simply consist of a small box with a microphone and listening cord attached. Personal amplifiers are usually best for people who mainly want to use their ALDs in conversations with loved ones. These devices can be more cost-effective compared to other ALDs.