An assistive listening device uses digital and wireless technology to help those with hearing loss interpret sounds more clearly. The devices are designed to work with your hearing aids or cochlear implants and can improve your quality of life by enabling you to be more engaged in the workplace and social interactions. They can also help you stay safe by amplifying household alarms. Here's an overview of two types of assistive listening devices:
Hearing Loop System
Hearing loops can be used in large facilities such as cinemas or in your own home. They use electromagnetic energy and pass sound through an amplifier to a wireless receiver. Most modern hearing aids and cochlear implants have built-in wireless receivers that simply need to be switched on when you want to use a hearing loop system. Using a hearing loop system cuts out background noise and allows you to hear sounds more clearly. If your hearing aids don't have a built-in hearing loop receiver, you can use a portable hearing loop receiver that's attached to headphones. You can use the hearing loop setting on your hearing aids or cochlear implant in any public place that displays a hearing loop sign. You can also install a hearing loop amplifier in your home to enable you to hear the television or alarms such as your smoke detector.
FM systems amplify sounds and transmit them to your hearing aids using radio signals. They are useful for improving your experience of one-on-one conversations as the person you're speaking to can wear a small microphone and transmitter, which sends amplified sound to the wireless receivers in your hearing aids. This makes FM systems particularly useful in classroom and work environments, but they can also be used to improve your ability to communicate effectively and feel involved in conversations with family and friends. FM systems can also be used if your hearing aids don't have wireless receivers as an external inductor that can be worn around your neck or behind your hearing aids. The inductor converts the signal from the transmitter to allow your hearing aids to pick up the amplified sound.
If you struggle to hear in noisy environments, rooms with poor acoustics or when the speaker is several feet away such as in a theatre, ask your hearing nurse or audiologist for advice on suitable assistive listening devices. They can show you some of the models available and give you brochures to look through at your leisure.