It’s an exciting time in hearing healthcare thanks to technological advancements in hearing aids and assistive listening devices (ALD). ALDs have been around for decades, helping people hear with greater accuracy in noisy environments. But equipment hasn’t always been the most inconspicuous, and it has often required the use of several components.
Now thankfully, ALDs are available in the most subtle of setups, while still delivering quality hearing assistance. As technology continues to evolve, hearing aids and ALDs are beginning to meld, offering a multi-functional device meant to holistically assist in hearing.
The Purpose Of An ALD
For numbers of people living with hearing loss, the use of a hearing aid is sufficient to improve hearing. But, many people struggle with complications that hearing aids come short of solving.
Normal listening signal to noise ratio (the sound you’re focusing on compared to all of the surrounding noises) is 10 to 0. But, those who live with hearing loss are often best able to hear at a ratio of 20 to 0. Hearing aids amplify all sounds including the noise you don’t necessarily want. ALDs help to zero in on the sound you’re focusing on, thereby increasing the signal to noise ratio to a desirable level.
Traditionally hearing aids have been effective up to about a 12-foot radius, and they’re not completely exempt from interference caused by surrounding noise. Nor are they able to help improve hearing sounds at far distances. That’s where ALDs come in. ALDs assist in isolating the sound you need to focus on, usually someone speaking, and bringing it in closer.
Bluetooth technology, in particular, has enabled ALD incorporation directly into hearing aids. For example, Bluetooth enabled ALDs, such as remote microphones, can be given to a speaker in a large lecture hall to wear or place on the podium. The speaker’s voice signals are then sent directly to the listener’s hearing aid.
These remote microphones can be used anywhere hearing becomes difficult due to noise and/or distance, such as restaurants, parties, conferences, etc.
Phone Call Assistance
Instead of trying to hear often muddled voices through a phone receiver, special smartphone apps and devices can send phone calls directly to your hearing aid, enabling clear sound and stress-free conversations.
If you own an iPhone there are apps that can use the phone as a switchboard of sorts that sends the call to your hearing aid. For non-iPhone users, there are small devices available that accomplish the same thing the iPhone app would accomplish.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about watching TV with a hearing impairment is maintaining a TV volume that’s loud enough for you but not too loud for others. There are small media devices available now that can plug directly into more recently manufactured TVs. This device sends the TV’s audio signal directly to your hearing aid, so you can comfortably hear without struggling with your family over the volume.
With all the devices noted above, the use of a hearing aid with compatible technology is required. Although the upfront cost may be more, the convenience of these types of devices may pay off in the long run in terms of comfort and quality of life. To explore all of your ALD options, please contact our office today.
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