Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)

Advanced Hearing Care—Improving your Quality of Life. Potomac Audiology: 240-477-1010

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)

Assistive listening devices (ALDs) expand the functionality of hearing aids and cochlear implants by helping you separate the sounds you want to hear from background noise, and by enabling you to hear when the speaker is more than a few feet away. The speaker talks into a microphone and the speech is sent straight to your ear, thus avoiding the degrading effects of noise and distance on speech intelligibility. It’s really that simple. An assistive listening device consists of a microphone to collect sound, a transmitter to send the signal across a distance, a receiver to intercept the signal, and any one of several different listening attachments to send the sound from the receiver to the user’s ear, hearing aid, or cochlear implant.


When Hearing Aids or Cochlear Implants Aren’t Enough

Hearing aids and cochlear implants can work wonders to improve speech understanding. Still, there are some situations that may be problematic such as listening in groups, hearing in noisy backgrounds, hearing a speaker who is more than a few feet away, and hearing in poor acoustical environments. In these situations, turning up the volume can result in turning up the background noise that you don’t want to hear.


Are There Any Options Built into Hearing Aids?

There are options that are integrated into many behind-the-ear hearing aids and cochlear implants. These systems come with a separate microphone that you can give to the speaker and the sound will be sent directly to your hearing aid or cochlear implant. These are convenient but are more expensive than purchasing separate units.


What About Bluetooth TM Devices?

More hearing aids are equipped to allow for gateway devices that enable digital audio streaming from Bluetooth devices to the hearing aid or cochlear implant. If you enjoy Bluetooth-enabled audio devices, such as cell phones, TVs, or computers, you will probably want to check this out.



If you are new to using a telecoil, be sure to check with your audiologist to ensure that the settings on it are maximized for use with assistive listening devices.
Access to public places for individuals with disabilities is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you think an assistive listening device would benefit you on the job or in your classroom, you should find out the process from that institution for requesting a reasonable accommodation (in private settings) or for auxiliary aids and services (in public settings).
Advocate for assistive listening devices at places you regularly attend (e.g., place of worship, classroom, community center). Encourage the venue to advertise that they have assistive devices so that others can learn of their benefit.

For a comprehensive summary of how assistive listening or hearing devices can enhance and supplement your everyday listening situations, read the article by Dr. Cindy Compton-Conley, the premier subject matter expert on overall communication enhancement. In this article, Dr. Compton-Conley addresses four main areas that need attention: face-to-face, media, telecommunications, and alerting.

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