If you’re on the fence about what to get your loved one for Christmas this year, don’t sweat. You’ve still got about 10 days left to shop! (On second thought, go ahead and sweat.) If your spouse or family member in Topeka is struggling to hear in certain situations, we’ve got the perfect idea for you: an assistive listening device.
ALDs vs. Hearing Aids
Those with hearing loss generally wear hearing aids, but not everybody in Topeka has an impairment so severe. Often, they just need a little boost in certain situations. That’s where assistive listening devices, or ALDs, come into play.
ALDs are designed for people who struggle to hear in certain situations, particularly those in which distance or poor acoustics are factors. While both hearing aids and ALDs amplify sounds and offer many of the same features, hearing aids are programmed to match a patient’s specific hearing loss frequencies. ALDs are usually hand-held amplifiers with portable microphones that improve the transmission of sound in some listening situations, particularly busy environments where there is a lot of competing noise. They can be used as personal standalone devices, but also help people with hearing aids extend the reach of their devices for improved hearing in large venues.
Categories of ALDs
There are several different categories of ALDs; the one best for you or your loved one depends on how and where you will use it most. They include:
- FM Systems. These consist of a microphone, transmitter and receiver, and transmit sounds that have been amplified directly to your hearing aids using radio signals. They are helpful in public places where there is a lot of background noise, such as classrooms, restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship.
- Personal Amplifiers. Personal amplifiers are simply smaller versions of FM systems that work well without hearing aids. They contain a built-in microphone and are best in smaller, more intimate environments where radio signals are less effective. They are popular for those watching television or traveling by car.
- Infrared Systems. Infrared systems are similar to FM systems but instead of using radio waves, a transmitter converts sound into infrared light, which is beamed to a receiver and then translated back into sound. Since light cannot pass through walls, infrared systems are helpful in situations where confidential information is being discussed, such as courtrooms.
- Hearing Loops. Most hearing aids today have a built-in telecoil, a wireless receiver that picks up signals from public hearing loops (aka induction loops). These systems transmit clear sound free of background noise directly to hearing aids using electromagnetic energy. They consist of a sound source such as a public address system, an amplifier and a loop of wire, and are found in many public places frequented by large groups of people, such as airports, movie theaters and classrooms.
- Alerting Devices. Alerting devices include vibrating alarm clocks, telephones that flash when ringing and closed captioning services. They are useful for individuals who are hard of hearing but don’t wear hearing aids.
ALDs are much less expensive than hearing aids, which means they make great gifts. Buying one for your loved one this holiday season is a great way to let them know you care about their hearing health. If you’d like more information on different types of ALDs or where to purchase them, give your Topeka ear, nose and throat specialist a call.