If you or your loved one is hard of hearing, then you probably know how difficult it can be to interact in noisy environments. This is where assistive listening devices (ALD) can come in handy.
People with hearing loss often find it difficult to follow conversations in busy and/or loud places. This makes it hard for them to participate in activities they enjoy, like going out to eat or watching a movie, as well as class meetings, religious services or other group events.
Thankfully, that’s where assistive listening devices come in.
Assistive listening devices amplify sound and make it easier for people with hearing loss to hear what’s going on around them.
What Are Assistive Listening Devices?
Assistive listening devices are electronic tools used to improve the hearing of people with all levels of hearing loss. ALDs work by either amplifying sound or by providing a direct connection to the ear that helps reduce background noise. There are many different types of assistive listening devices, so it’s important to find the one that best suits your needs.
What Are the Different Types of Assistive Listening Devices?
There are many different types of ALDs, but the most common ones include the following.
Audio Induction Loops
Audio induction loops are designed to help people with hearing loss hear better in large spaces, like auditoriums or churches. Induction loop systems consist of a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is placed near the sound source, like a microphone or public address system, and the wireless receiver is worn by the person with hearing loss.
This type of ALD works by transmitting sound directly from the speaker to the listener’s ear through a magnetic field. This neckloop option, which works for people who wear cochlear implants with a telecoil or “t-coil,” makes it relatively easy to hear the sound more clearly.
Loop systems are the most commonly used types of ALD in the United States.
FM systems are designed for smaller spaces, like classrooms or meeting rooms. These types of hearing aids work by broadcasting sound through a transmitter that is connected to the audio source. The person with hearing loss wears a receiver that picks up the broadcast signal and amplifies it.
A personal amplifier is a small, portable device that amplifies sound for people with hearing loss. It can be used in a variety of settings, like at home, work or school. Personal amplifiers come in both battery-operated and plug-in models, and many of them are adjustable, so you can customize the sound to fit your needs.
A Bluetooth headset is a wireless device that connects to your phone or other audio source and transmits sound directly to your ears. This type of ALD is great for people who want freedom of movement, as they can wear it while walking or moving around.
An infrared light system is a type of ALD that uses light to transmit sound. It works by connecting a transmitter to the audio source and a receiver to the person with hearing loss. The transmitter emits invisible light signals, which are received by the receiver and converted into sound. This type of ALD is perfect for people who are hard of hearing and have difficulty using traditional hearing aids.
What Are the Most Commonly Used Assistive Listening Devices?
The audio induction loop is the most commonly used type of ALD in the United States. That’s because, besides being affordable, it can be used easily with cochlear implants. The loop transmits sound directly to the user’s ear, so they don’t have to wear anything extra.
The second most popular type of ALD is the personal amplifier. This device is small, portable and lightweight, making it perfect for people who need to use it on the go. It also comes with a variety of different attachments, like headphones or earbuds, to fit any user’s needs.
There are also a few other types of ALDs that are growing in popularity, including Bluetooth receivers. However, these devices are still used less often than the two types mentioned above.
General Benefits of Assistive Listening Devices
One of the main benefits of using an assistive listening device is that it can help improve communication in difficult listening environments. This can be especially helpful for people with hearing loss who want to participate more in group activities.
Also, if you have a hearing loss that fluctuates, an assistive listening device can be a great way to boost your hearing when you need it most. Many ALDs are portable and easy to use, so you can take them with you wherever you go.
Finally, using an assistive listening device can help reduce strain on your ears and improve your overall quality of life.
Benefits of Assistive Listening Systems in Manufacturing Firms
Manufacturing companies have a reputation for being loud and noisy places. This can be a challenge for employees with hearing loss, as it can make it difficult to communicate with co-workers and understand instructions. Assistive listening devices can help solve this problem by providing employees with the ability to hear clearly in noisy environments, leading to a number of benefits.
Increased Worker Productivity
As a worker, when you hear what’s going on around you effectively, you become better able to complete your tasks more effectively. This leads to increased worker productivity and less downtime.
Reduced Safety Risks
If you can’t hear instructions or warning signals in a busy manufacturing environment, you’re exposed to dangerous situations. Assistive technology can help mitigate this risk by allowing you and other employees working in the plant to communicate and stay aware of their surroundings at all times.
Improved Communication Among Co-Workers
When everyone in a workplace can easily hear one another, it leads to better communication and teamwork. This is especially important in a high-stress manufacturing environment, where any miscommunication can lead to an accident.
Where Are Assistive Listening Devices Needed?
Assistive listening devices are needed in a variety of places, including the following.
Students who have hearing loss can struggle in traditional educational settings, as they can’t always hear the teacher. Assistive listening devices can help these students by amplifying the teacher’s voice and providing them with a more conducive learning environment.
In many workplaces, it can be difficult for employees with hearing loss to communicate with co-workers and understand instructions. Assistive listening devices can help solve this problem and improve safety in the workplace.
Places of Worship
For people who are hard of hearing, it can be difficult to follow along during religious services. Assistive listening devices can help by amplifying the sermon or other spoken content.
Air travel can be challenging for people with hearing loss, as they often have to rely on announcements that are made over the public address system. Assistive listening devices can help these travelers by providing them with a way to listen to airport announcements directly.
Other places in which you’d require assistive listening devices include:
- Sports stadiums and other public places
- Conference centers
How Much Does an Assistive Listening Device Cost?
There is a wide range of assistive listening devices on the market, and prices vary depending on the type and features of the device. Generally speaking, though, most ALDs cost between $50 and $1,000.
For instance, according to the National Association of the Deaf, a personal amplifier can cost about $200 whereas the cost of a personal FM system ranges between $700 and $1,000.
This may seem like a lot, but it’s important to remember that an ALD can provide many years of hearing assistance. Also, many insurance companies tend to cover a portion of the cost of an ALD, so be sure to check with your provider.
When Should Assistive Listening Devices Be Installed in a Facility?
If you own or run a facility, it’s important to consider installing assistive listening devices when there are employees with hearing loss working in the environment. This can help improve communication among co-workers and reduce safety risks. If you’ve recently started recruiting employees with hearing loss, be sure to install ALDs in the workplace as soon as possible.
You should also install ALDs when there are people with hearing loss attending events or using the facility. This will ensure that everyone can participate and enjoy what’s going on. This is especially important if the facility is noisy, is close to a source of loud noise or has a lot of echo.
Last but not least, if one or more employees have started complaining about how difficult it is to hear in your facility, it’s probably time for an ALD installation. It helps to conduct an assessment of your facility’s acoustics to determine whether you require ALDs and where they would be the most beneficial.
Clearly, assistive listening devices are an important tool for people with hearing loss. They can help improve communication in a variety of settings and make life easier for those who struggle to hear. If you’re thinking about purchasing or installing ALDs, be sure to do your research and find the right device for your needs.