Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)
Individuals with hearing loss frequently benefit from the use of personal hearing aids. These might be thought of as "general purpose" assistance as they may be used in a wide variety of listening situations. As any hearing aid wearer will tell you, hearing aids are more beneficial in some situations than in others. To meet the needs of hearing impaired individuals, a host of devices are finding their way to market which are designed to meet specific listening needs. These instruments can be used with or without hearing aids to help reduce the adverse effects of background noise and of the distance between the speaker and listener. As such, they are often more successful at providing assistance in the situations for which they were designed than are most "general purpose" hearing aids.
Several types of these devices are:
- Alerting Devices: e.g.. Strobe light smoke detectors, low pitched door bells and phone ringers.
- Telephone Assistance: e.g.. Telephone amplifiers, attachments for FM systems.
- Television Assistance: e.g.. Room loops, hardwire systems, infrared systems, FM radio systems.
- Group Listening Environments: e.g.. FM, loop, or infrared transmitters and receivers used for theater, lectures, meetings, worship services, etc., and use of such systems already installed in public places.
How to get further information on these devices:
- Many audiological practices have a special room set up to demonstrate various ALDs. Audiologists usually are available by appointment to help consumers identify situations or special needs and then to select appropriate ALDs to meet those needs. Fees charged for this service are commensurate with those charged for the selection of personal hearing aids as the process is similar. The individualized service is particularly helpful for consumers and their families who are just beginning to cope with the frustrations of hearing loss. Some Centers offers consumers free loans (with a small refundable deposit) of many of the devices available so that they may be evaluated in difficult situations. When longer trials are desired, a rental program is available.
- ALDs are sold at many audiological practices. Some may also be purchased at area electronics superstores or through catalogues.
- ALD demonstration centers are also available at self-help groups. These centers do not sell or service the devices, but offer a way to view and handle a variety of ALDs. Such centers are staffed by volunteers.