There is no disputing that hearing aids are essential devices for millions of Americans. But what happens if hearing aids just aren’t enough to address certain hearing issues? In these cases, the next step is to invest in assistive listening devices - tools that help to direct and bring sound closer to the ear, rather than simply receiving and amplifying it. These wonderful hearing tools not only improve the speech-to-noise ratio, but they can also separate the noise you actually want to hear from unwanted background noise - all while improving a user’s listening experience. For those living with hearing loss, assisted listening devices are extremely helpful in restaurants, large classroom settings, and a number of other places with poor acoustics.
If this sounds like a solution you want to discuss, ZN Audiology can help. We carry assistive hearing instruments that work in addition to or in place of hearing aids if needed. We also understand the difficulties of living with and addressing hearing loss. That’s why our #1 goal is to help you overcome those challenges so you can enjoy a more complete and satisfying life. If you’re ready to begin, please contact us for a consultation at one of our NY audiology practice locations.
Assistive Listening Devices are hearing tools that are also commonly called Assistive Listening Systems (ALSs). These tools help to address listening challenges in three key ways:
minimizing background noise
reducing the effect distance has on a sound source and the deaf or hard of hearing person
overriding poor acoustics
It's helpful to think of ALSs as amplifiers that bring sound directly into the ear. They also separate the sounds - particularly speech - that a person wants to hear from background noise. As a result, they improve what is known as the “speech to noise ratio" - making it easier for a person with degrees of hearing loss to hear.
When we are hard of hearing, we need a volume (defined as the signal to noise ratio) increase of about 15 to 25 dB in order to achieve the same level of understanding as people with normal hearing. An ALS allows us to achieve this gain in volume without overwhelming other people in an area, too.
Each ALS has at least three components:
a device for receiving the signal and bringing the sound to the ear
These devices are used by people with all degrees of hearing loss. This even includes hearing aid users and cochlear implant users - not just people with more mild hearing issues. Because hearing aids or cochlear implants have performance limitations and do not work well in all situations, ALSs can be beneficial secondary tools as well as primary ones. They can also be used in conjunction with another hearing tool if necessary.
People often use ALSs in places of entertainment, employment, and education, as well as for household and personal use.
Yep! Popular ALSs can utilize FM (radio broadcast) technology, infrared (light-based) technology, or inductive loop (electromagnetic field) technology. Each method will come with its own list of pros or cons, so it’s best to discuss your hearing needs with your audiologist when selecting the best device for you.