If you are one of the millions of Americans experiencing hearing loss, you may be looking for ways to turn up the volume on your everyday life. From conversations with family and friends to events, movies, phone calls and even television, hearing loss can put a damper on the things you enjoy doing. That’s where hearing aids and assistive listening devices (ALDs) can help.
When Hearing Loss Hits
When you find that you may be missing some of the conversation or your favorite show’s sound isn’t as clear as it once was, it may be time to see a hearing healthcare professional for a hearing evaluation. Once your provider has determined if and what type of hearing loss you have, chances are they will recommend hearing aids.
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, from sleek to sturdy, with a range of features to help you hear more clearly. They have come a long way from the old analog versions and offer hearing capability that is more robust and natural than ever before. Your hearing technology doesn’t have to stop there though. For many with hearing loss, pairing an ALD with their hearing aid can make all the difference. These devices expand hearing ability beyond an individual’s immediate space (roughly 10-12 feet) by bringing sounds closer.
What Assistive Listening Devices Are Available?
As technology advances so do the ALD choices available. Before investing in a new device, the most important first step is to determine what your needs might be. Do you enjoy concerts in the park, attending local lectures, watching the game on your big screen, savoring meals in bustling restaurants or something else? Once you have a better idea of your needs, you can start finding the best device to meet those needs. You may want to consider these as the most helpful ALDs on the market:
Induction Loop – These ALDs can be used in many different settings and are now often available at larger public events, conferences, and similar. Using a magnetic field and the “T” (telecoil) setting on your hearing aids, an induction loop transmits sound directly to the user. This cuts out much of the background noise that might interfere with hearing.
FM System – Similar to an induction loop, an FM system works well in lectures and noisier venues with a microphone that transmits to a portable receiver. For example, an instructor would be able to wear the small microphone that then transmits the conversation directly to the student with the receiver. There are now even small microphones that transmit directly to compatible hearing aids allowing you to hear the conversation wherever you are.
Streaming Devices – Similar to inductive loops, these specialized devices tap into the power of Bluetooth to transmit sound, in stereo and with less background noise, directly to your hearing aids. Many more options are now becoming available using Bluetooth to connect with phone calls and more!
It’s easier than ever to find assistive technology out and about thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and more hearing loss-friendly policies across the country. Venues such as movie theaters, live performance theaters, and public classes provide devices upon request.
Assistive listening devices are becoming more and more advanced as the hearing health industry answers the call for more sophisticated and robust options. To learn more about the newest ALDs on the market and how they can work with your hearing aid to help you hear better with hearing loss, contact your hearing healthcare provider.