Assistive listening devices are designed to provide the right support in situations where sound can be an issue. A number of devices designed for different applications, from home use to work, teaching and courtrooms. These have all been developed to be as portable, lightweight and adaptable as possible to provide the best support. There are a number of assistive Listening Devices for staff, that could help them day to day in a working environment.
A personal amplifier is basically a small box with a mic and a listening cord attached to it, most useful for one-on-one, in person conversations. It allows the person you are speaking with to attach the mic to their clothing so you can plug it into your personal amplifier and hear more clearly. This cuts out most of the background noise. One advantage to personal amplifiers is that they are relatively inexpensive. The disadvantage is that since you are connected to speaker with a wire, personal amplifiers are not useful for situations that require you to move around a lot. Situations that require mobility or hearing from a distance, e.g. concerts or the theater, require a more flexible system.
If you are looking for an ALD that allows for more mobility in addition to hearing more distant sounds, an FM system might be the way to go. An FM system uses radio broadcast technology to bring the sound you want to hear directly to your ears. With this wireless system, the user wears a portable receiver that allows them to hear the speaker. The speaker, in turn, wears a microphone transmitter that allows the listener to hear from up to 150 feet away. Ideal for classroom settings or outside activities, an FM system allows you to move around at will and still hear clearly from a distance. The only downside is that you pay for the added flexibility.
A high-tech option that affords maximum privacy, infrared systems are like FM systems except that instead of radio waves they transmit sounds using light waves. Since the light waves do not pass through walls, they are useful for situations in which privacy is needed such as doctors’ offices and court proceedings, etc. Though they are often used for watching TV or in theaters, they have one major disadvantage: any object or person that comes between the listener and the emitter causes the signal to be blocked. Sunlight can also wreak havoc on the signal, making these systems useful for specific situations but in most cases not as versatile as FM systems.
Induction loop systems
Those with t-coils in their hearing aids have another option: an induction loop system, which uses an electromagnetic field to carry the sound to the user’s ears. In this system a loop of insulated wire, which can range from a small loop worn around the neck to a loop that encircles an entire room, is connected to a power source, an amplifier and a microphone. Loop systems are inexpensive as well as versatile, useful for a single t-coil hearing aid user or a group. Mobility is not an issue, as the user is not physically connected to the system; even non hearing aid users can use the loop system with headphones or a receiver system.
Bluetooth technology is the latest innovation to take off among hearing aid users. Although Bluetooth hearing aids are not yet available, the technology allows two devices such as a cell phone or computer, for example, and a wireless hearing aid with a compatible streamer to talk to each other. The range is limited, somewhere around 20 feet, but the lack of interference and secure connection of this convenient hands free technology outweighs any negatives. In addition, the use of one streamer can allow the user to switch back and forth among multiple devices, from cell phones to tablets to iPods.