Assistive Hearing Devices
What is an Assistive Hearing Devices (AHD)?
Assistive Hearing Devices improve a hearing-impaired person’s ability to live independently by transmitting amplified sound from a source like a TV or phone, or by transforming the sound into a visual signal or a tactile vibration.
The technology is changing quickly, with inventors creating wearables that are linked to smart phones or smart watches to provide alerts. Smart phone developers are creating apps like Let Me Hear Again and Flash Alerts available on Google Apps. There are assistive hearing devices that can connect listening devices to televisions and radios. There are personal one-on-one amplifiers, audio systems that use FM signals to amplify local sounds, and direct audio input options for hearing aids and more products under development.
What categories of Assistive Hearing Devices are there?
- Hardwire Systems: These devices are among the most affordable of the AHDs, with many devices connecting directly to phone systems or affordable speakers that can be placed around a house or apartment.
- Infrared Systems: These systems are based on a transmitter that broadcasts signals via an invisible IR signal to stethoscope earphones, hearing aids and sound amplifiers in a confined space. The sound fidelity is excellent and can be used for radio, TV, concerts, lectures and theater.
- FM Systems: This technology is based on the FM band of radio and includes a small transmitter and receiver. A transmitter microphone is positioned near the speaker or performer. A signal is transmitted to an earphone receiver that the user will be connected to. Some units will include a wire loop that serves as the antenna for the FM signal. Some hearing aids can connect to this technology by setting the setting to the “T” or telephone position.
- Induction Loop System: This system is similar to the FM System. A loop of wire is positioned at the perimeter of the room. The loop is connected to an amplifier that picks up the signal from the speaker or performer. Individuals can connect to the loop by choosing the “T” setting on their hearing aids.
Who can benefit from an Assistive Hearing Device?
- Mild, moderate or severe hearing loss: These individuals may benefit from a complete aural rehabilitation program that includes assistive listening devices such as hardwire, infrared, FM and loop technologies.
- Severe or profound hearing impairment or deafness: These individuals may benefit from hardwire, FM, Loop and IR systems. In addition, they should consider captioned TV, TTYs, gongs, bells, lights, vibrators and even hearing dogs.
How do you choose Assistive Hearing Devices?
There are many factors to consider, such as the severity of your hearing loss, evaluation of your current lifestyle needs, your cultural requirements, flexibility, affordability and more. An ENT & AA audiologist can help you make the right decisions to meet your hearing needs, so that you can be an active, contributing member of your community.