All About Assistive Listening Devices

All About Assistive Listening Devices

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

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

When you think of hearing assistance, hearing aids are probably the first devices to come to mind. Indeed, this technology is the most common form of hearing assistance, and many people have seen their lives transformed by integrating hearing aids. Whereas communication might have been difficult in the past, hearing aids can improve conversations, relationships, and even physical, mental, and cognitive health. Although hearing aids are incredibly effective forms of assistance, they are not alone. Other Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are available for those with varying degrees of hearing loss. Those with moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss tend to benefit the most from these devices. Let’s take a moment to look at the established range of ALDs that are available, as well as the newer technologies that can be considered ALDs, as well.



For those with severe or profound hearing loss, telephone conversations can be difficult or impossible. Without a specially tailored telephone, these people will not be able to hear what others have to say through the receiver. Two types of telephone are useful in these instances. Amplified telephones produce a louder volume through the receiver, making it possible to boost the entire audio signal. Although this function does not always work well with hearing aids, it can be useful for emergency purposes. Telephones with captioning are a great option for those who do not have vision impairment. While listening to the receiver, these devices use live voice-to-text technology to provide a text that the user can read. For those who have hearing aids with Bluetooth connectivity, telephone calls can be sent directly to these devices. This function not only boosts the sound of the caller but also accommodates the individual hearing needs of the user.


Hearing Loops

If you have ever seen a sign with an ear, line, and the letter “T,” you are likely in the range of a hearing loop. These ALDs create a field in which individuals can use the telecoil function of the hearing aid to receive a direct audio signal. Hearing loops are common in public places, such as courthouses, town halls, or libraries. Particularly when there is a microphone or public address system, these ALDs make it possible to send that audio directly to hearing aids rather than using the air to transmit the sound. Those who do not have hearing aids can sometimes use stand-alone devices to receive that signal, as well. These headsets come with a receiver to bring the voice of a speaker to closer range and higher volume. If you are interested in using a hearing loop, contact the accommodations specialist for that location for more information.


Televisions and Other Media

For those who do not use Bluetooth connected hearing aids, specific devices are available to amplify the sound of televisions and other media sources. Some of these work like hearing loops, while others work through other wireless technology. These devices are particularly helpful for those whose family members find the volume of the television to be uncomfortably loud. Those who do not wear hearing aids tend to turn up the volume on the television to such a high level that others in the home are unable to enjoy the program. Those who do have Bluetooth connectivity in their hearing aids can use that technology to stream audio directly from some televisions. Although not all televisions have this capability, many newer televisions can be broadcast to Bluetooth speakers or directly to hearing aids.


If you are interested in exploring these ALDs, the first place to start is with an appointment for a hearing test. Some of these services can be useful to people who do not have hearing aids, but others are best used in conjunction with individualized hearing assistance. If you are ready to explore the world of assistive technology, why not make an appointment for a hearing test today. We can use those results to determine what kind of assistance is right for you. If hearing aids are the right starting point, we can recommend aids that are suited to your individual condition of hearing impairment. When other assistive technology becomes necessary, this baseline reading of your hearing ability will also be useful to determine compatibility.