Assistive Hearing and Listening Devices Information
Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/04/15
Synopsis: Examines some of the listening devices currently available for the hearing impaired and hard of hearing. Chronic ear infections are a leading cause of hearing loss. A hearing aid is an electro acoustic device which typically fits in, or behind, the wearer's ear.
Hearing Assistive Technology, or HAT as it is commonly referred to, is technology that can help in various listening situations. Assistive Listening Technology (ALT) is technology that can help in various listening situations. Often, a hearing aid or an implant is not enough. In such cases, there are technologies that are designed to help people hear better. These are designed to enhance telephone communication, TV reception or listening in various kinds of public venues.
Whether in a theater, in a house of worship, or at a sporting event, people want to experience every word and hear every sound. That's what they come to events for, and they deserve to participate by hearing every single word. But what if someone has a hard time hearing at an event
Although many are OK listening to a standard sound system or PA and others have their own hearing aid, there are inevitably several people in every gathering who could use a little hearing help. Some hear fine but want an enhanced auditory experience. In these cases, you may want to consider trying an Assistive Listening Device or ALD.
Hearing devices can be used to overcome the effects of background noise, poor room acoustics or far distance from the speaker. And for people who are hard of hearing, an assisted listening device may be used with or without a hearing aid. There are a variety of listening systems on the market, all designed to provide an easy-to-use and convenient wireless sound solution for you or your patrons and guests.
Examples of Assistive Listening Devices
Personal Frequency Modulation (FM) Systems
These are like miniature radio stations. They operate on special frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission. They usually consist of a transmitter microphone used by the speaker and a receiver and headset used by the listener.
FM systems are used in a variety of situations such as listening to a tour guide, a classroom lecturer, a sales trainer, a church leader, or to sounds at sporting event or theatre. In most situations, the microphone and transmitter is built into the overall sound system. You or your customer is provided with a FM receiver that can connect to a headset or even to a hearing aid.
Infrared systems transmit sound using infrared light waves. Although they are often used in the home with TV sets, they can also be used in large settings like theaters and sporting events.
Close up photo of the left ear of a person wearing a beige colored hearing aid.
A hearing aid is an electro acoustic body worn apparatus which typically fits in or behind the wearer's ear, and is designed to amplify and modulate sounds for the wearer.
Getting used to a hearing aid takes time. Your listening skills should improve gradually as you become accustomed to amplification. The sound you hear is different because it's amplified. Even your own voice sounds strange when you wear a hearing aid.
Many types of hearing aids exist today for the hearing impaired and elderly.
All hearing aids work by collecting sounds from the environment through a microphone, amplifying the sound and then directing this amplified signal into your ear by way of a loudspeaker. The amplified signal stimulates your inner ear, which activates nerve fibers that carry the sound impulses to your brain.
In most cases, it's better to have two hearing aids. Wearing two (binaural) hearing aids allows more information to reach your brain and makes it easier to hear speech against background noise.
Whatever system you end up using for your organization's listening needs, it is important to pick a company that sells a wide range of solution and technology that can tailored to your specific needs. One size does not fit all in the ALD industry. Likewise, it is important to be able to try the equipment before you purchase a system. You really need to know first hand how an assistive listening system will benefit you.
Hearing Loss Facts
- Noise is a major avoidable cause of hearing loss
- Chronic ear infections are a leading cause of hearing loss
- Hearing loss can be due to the use of ototoxic medications
- 50% of hearing loss is preventable through public health actions
- There are 360 million persons in the world with disabling hearing loss
- Nearly one out of every three persons over 65 are affected by hearing loss
- Approximately 0.5-5 of every 1000 infants are born with or develop in early childhood disabling hearing loss
- Deaf people develop keener senses of observation, feeling, taste and smell to compensate for their loss of hearing.
- There are more than 22 million deaf or hearing-impaired persons in the U.S - six million of which are profoundly Deaf.
- Deaf or hard-of-hearing people who use sign language much prefer the term Deaf. The word hearing-impaired implies there is something impaired or broken, and Deaf people are not broken - they simply use a different means of communication.
- Those who were born completely deaf and only learned sign language will, not surprisingly, think in sign language. What is surprising is those who were born completely deaf but learn to speak through vocal training will occasionally think not only in the particular sign language that they know, but also will sometimes think in the vocal language they learned, with their brains coming up with how the vocal language sounds.
Hearing Loss Statistics
- Men are more likely than women to report having hearing loss.
- More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents.
- Five out of 6 children experience ear infection (otitis media) by the time they are 3 years old.
- About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
- Roughly 10 percent of the U.S. adult population, or about 25 million Americans, has experienced tinnitus lasting at least five minutes in the past year.
- One in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations.
- As of December 2012, approximately 324,200 people worldwide have received cochlear implants. In the United States, roughly 58,000 adults and 38,000 children have received them.
- The NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities.
- About 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64. Nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.
- Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.
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