All About Assistive Listening Devices

All About Assistive Listening Devices & More

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Hearing Aids

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA
Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)

When we think about hearing assistance, hearing aids are often the first devices that come to mind. Indeed, these tend to be the most effective and common form of treatment for most people with hearing loss. Not only do they provide amplification of sound, but they also are tailored to the individual hearing profile of the person in need of assistance. Although this type of hearing treatment is effective for most people and situations, they are not alone in the world of assistive listening support. In addition to hearing aids, other domain-specific devices are available to complete the profile of hearing help. Some of these are only suited to those with severe hearing impairment, but others can be helpful for anyone who has hearing needs. Let’s look at some of the major players in the world of hearing assistance, keeping in mind that a diagnosis of your hearing needs is the necessary first step before seeking any assistive technology.


Telecommunication Devices


Telecommunication can be a challenging context for those who have hearing loss. Although hearing aids can help raise the volume on a telephone, for example, they also come with challenges, such as feedback, competing background noise, and speaker placement. Assistive listening telephones are available that are not only compatible with hearing aids but also provide live captioning in many cases. Some of these telephones work with the telecoil function of your hearing aids to send the audio directly to your devices rather than using a double speaker system of the hearing aids and the phone itself. When sending audio to your hearing aids, this signal can be clearer and doesn’t have the same problem with feedback. The captioning service can work together with the audio from the device to supply visual and audible communication information at the same time. Videoconferencing is another challenging aspect of telecommunication for those who have hearing loss. Some interfaces require a third-party app to caption the conversation, while others offer live captioning in the system itself. Although this captioning is not perfect, it gives a good starting point for understanding the conversation.


Television and Other Media


Getting the audio from your television or other media can face similar issues to telephones, and hearing loops can be installed in your living room to send audio directly to hearing aids or other listening devices. Short of installing a hearing loop, many of the latest televisions are Bluetooth enabled. If your hearing aids have Bluetooth connectivity, you can send the audio from your television directly to hearing aids. This audio connection makes it possible to avoid playing the audio from your television at a volume that is uncomfortable for others in the home. The most advanced systems can send audio to your hearing aid Bluetooth system and to external speakers for others in the home, as well. Some hearing amplifiers are available for those who do not have hearing aids, as well.


Emergency Alerts


Beyond these communication and media systems, getting alerted to danger is a top priority for those who have hearing loss and impairment. Many alert systems require audio alarms to signal a fire or other danger. If you or someone you love has moderate or more severe hearing loss, emergency alert systems with visual and haptic systems can be a crucial line of defense. Particularly while sleeping, these haptic devices will provide a powerful buzz and shake that wakes a person with hearing loss. Captioned emergency radios are available for instances when storms or other natural disasters make cellular service unreliable. These emergency alert devices are useful for those who have hearing aids and in the event that power outages might make it impossible to charge the batteries in your devices.


If you are interested in any of these assistive listening devices, simply contact our office to get more information about what services might pertain to your needs. A hearing test will be a necessary first step to determine your degree of hearing loss, helping us understand which assistive listening devices might be helpful for you and which might be essential to your safety. Don’t put off getting a hearing test any longer. If an emergency were to occur, you want to be prepared with all the communication support you need.