You may already have hearing instruments or a cochlear implant that you are happy with, or maybe you’re in the market for such. If you feel like you could use some additional support for the TV or in a large environment, such as church or a live theatre production, this is where Assistive Listening Devices shine. You may have seen people touring a museum with a headset on – this is a perfect example of an ALD in use for anyone in that space.
Kinds of Assistive Listening Devices Available
This technology can be as simple as an amplified land-line telephone / flashing light notifier system, or as sophisticated as a remote microphone device that improves the audibility of one or more people when in a noisy environment, such as a restaurant. Most hearing devices and cochlear implants now have direct BlueTooth (BT) connection to your cell phone / PC or Laptop / iPad or BT compatible TV set.
IP Relay Services
Forms of IP relay service have been around for many years and have evolved to pair with your smartphone, tablet or computer for easier use. IP relay involves typing your message to an operator who then reads it aloud to the other party. The operator then sends the other party’s responses to you in type. You need an internet connection for this service, which can be used to both make and receive calls.
Phone captioning services can be used on most smartphones with the CaptionCall app installed. Special funding is available for this service whether one uses a smartphone or a land-line telephone. The app automatically pairs with the captioned phone service. The caller is able to talk, and then both hear and read the other individuals’ responses via a transcriber. The other person hears your voice just like a regular phone call.
Preventing isolation from hearing loss is critical to one’s overall health and wellness. An amplified phone is designed to be used by people with hearing loss who need to boost their ringtone volume level, and who may benefit from high-frequency amplification. These phones allow for clearer and more effective telephone communication.
ALDs for TV
If you live with other people or live in an apartment situation, blasting the volume of the TV is not a popular solution in order to hear more clearly. Fortunately, there are options that can work with or without hearing aids.
TV Ears is a popular wireless headset that allows for personal volume control. This option is available for people that do not wear hearing aids but would prefer more support while watching their favorite shows.
Some modern smart-TV’s have BlueTooth transmission systems built into them. If your hearing instruments are BT compatible you may be able to pair them directly to your TV. If your TV does not offer this option then the hearing instrument manufacturers offer TV transmitters which send the digital, stereo signal directly to your hearing instruments for individualized amplification.
Designed for very hard of-hearing or deaf people, alerting devices make your world a bit safer by using louder sounds, visuals or vibrations to get your attention. This technology has been incorporated into alarm clocks, doorbells, smoke detectors, wristwatches and even kitchen timers.
These are available in many public venues and work with the public address system to wirelessly transmit the ‘stage’ sound to your hearing instruments / CI. Your devices must have a T-Coil (telecoil) circuit to take advantage of these systems, which are frequently found in houses of worship, theaters, airports and lecture halls.
IR (Infrared) Systems
Many movie theaters offer IR systems (a line-of-sight signal technology), as FM system signals will pass right through the walls of the theaters. You can borrow a receiver from the theater which comes attached either to a pair of headphones or to a neck loop which is used in conjunction with your hearing instruments’ T-Coil circuit.
FM systems have historically been used in educational settings to help students hear their teachers better; however, this technology has been adapted for use by adult hearing instrument wearers. From simple Partner Microphones to ultra-sophisticated multiple microphone devices which automatically locate the primary speech signal and stream it through your hearing instruments, there are a variety of FM ALD options to fit your listening needs.
Accessibility for individuals with hearing impairment is guaranteed within the workplace, and is increasingly common in public environments. “If your hearing aid has a telecoil and / or an FM receiver built into it, connecting to one of these systems is quick and easy,” states Dr. MacDonald.
If you are interested in one of these systems for yourself or a loved one, we invite you to make an appointment to discuss pairing options with one of our Audiologists.