Hearing Aid Alternatives: Assistive Listening Devices

As an audiologist, my primary goal is to help individuals with hearing loss lead fulfilling lives by providing them with the best possible solutions. One such opportunity that holds immense potential in improving communication for the hearing impaired is the use of hearing aids and assistive listening devices (ALDs). 

On this page, we will look into the world of assistive listening devices, understand their differences from hearing aids, and explore how these two devices complement each other to create a comprehensive hearing solution.

If you need to see an audiologist in Narragansett, RI, to help you in choosing hearing aids or assistive listening devices, please visit us at South County Hearing Services.

Assistive Listening Devices vs. Hearing Aids:

While hearing aids are widely known and used to amplify and clarify sound for individuals with hearing loss, assistive listening devices serve a different purpose. ALDs are engineered to improve how one hears in specific listening situations, such as group conversations, lectures, or public gatherings.

ALDs are not intended to replace hearing aids but to work alongside them, providing additional support in difficult listening environments.

Types of Assistive Listening Devices

Hearing Loop Technology

One of the most popular assistive listening technologies is the hearing loop, also known as the induction loop. It comes with electromagnetic induction loops, which are installed in key public locations including theaters, places of worship, and conference rooms. 

These loops are designed to transmit sound wirelessly to hearing aids or cochlear implants equipped with an induction coil or telecoil (t-coil). Users can adjust their hearing aids to the t-coil mode, allowing them to receive sound directly from the loop system, improving sound clarity and minimizing background noise.

FM Systems

FM systems use radio signals to transmit sound from a microphone worn by the speaker to a receiver worn by the listener. They are particularly useful in situations where the speaker and listener are at a distance or in noisy environments. FM systems are typically used in conferences, classrooms, and public gatherings, reducing the effects of distance and background noise and providing improved speech clarity.

Infrared Systems

Infrared systems transmit sound using infrared light waves. The sound is captured by a microphone and transmitted wirelessly to infrared receivers worn by individuals with hearing loss. Infrared systems provide clear and secure transmission, as the signal cannot pass through walls. 

Personal Sound Amplifiers

These are small, portable devices that amplify sound in close proximity. They are especially helpful for small group settings, one-on-one conversations, or while watching television. 

Keep in mind that the selection of an appropriate ALD should be based on a person’s specific hearing needs and the listening environment he or she is being exposed to. 

Consulting with an audiologist is important to determine the most suitable ALD and ensure proper integration with existing hearing aids or cochlear implants.

The Synergy between Assistive Listening Devices and Hearing Aids

While assistive listening devices offer valuable benefits, it is important to recognize their limitations and understand how they are meant to complement hearing aids.

Hearing aids are tailored to address an individual’s specific hearing needs, providing comprehensive amplification and sound processing. They address a broad range of listening environments encountered in daily life, offering improved speech comprehension and enhanced sound perception.

ALDs excel in niche environments where hearing aids alone may fall short. They reduce background noise, provide targeted amplification, and enhance speech intelligibility in specific listening situations. 

For instance, a hearing loop system in a theater can greatly improve the experience for individuals with hearing loss, ensuring they catch every word clearly.

By integrating ALDs with hearing aids, people with hearing loss can experience the best of both worlds. Hearing aids serve as the foundation for everyday listening, while ALDs come into play when faced with challenging or specialized listening environments. This combination empowers individuals to engage fully in social interactions, educational settings, and public events.

Getting the most out of ALDs

Assistive listening devices open up new possibilities for individuals with hearing loss, facilitating better communication, enhancing social participation, and leading to an improved quality of life. The advancements in ALD technologies continue to expand the options available, enabling individuals to personalize hearing solutions according to unique needs and preferences.

While assistive listening devices play a vital role in expanding communication possibilities for individuals with hearing loss, it is important to remember that ALDs are not a substitute for hearing aids. Instead, they complement hearing instruments by addressing specific listening challenges.

Hearing Aids and Assistive Listening Devices in Narragansett, RI

If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, don’t hesitate to reach out to an audiologist who can provide the necessary guidance and support in exploring the benefits of hearing aids and assistive listening devices. 

At South County Hearing, we encourage anyone with hearing loss to explore the benefits of both hearing aids and assistive listening devices. We ensure that each of our patients receives personalized guidance on selecting and integrating these technologies to create the most ideal hearing loss solution.

We are trained and licensed to guide individuals in selecting the best ALDS and hearing aids in Narragansett, RI. We also provide ongoing support and adjustments to ensure optimal hearing performance.

Together, we can unlock a world of improved communication and a richer hearing experience.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Learn more about how we can help.

We offer solutions that include hearing aids, assistive devices, aural rehabilitation, tinnitus treatment, and custom hearing protection.