What are Assistive Listening Devices?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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An assistive listening device, also know as an ALD, is any kind of device that helps people with auditory communications. A hearing aid, for example, is an assistive listening device. However, hearing aids are not always sufficient. Poor room acoustics and background noise can, at times, render hearing aids almost useless. Therefore, additional assistive listening devices can be quite helpful.

One-to-one communicators are kinds of assistive listening devices. A one-to-one communicator is a system that allows a person to hear, through a hearing aid or set of headphones, only what one specific person is saying. The person speaking speaks into a microphone and the sound is communicated directly into the one-to-one ALD. These types of assistive listening devices are especially helpful during lectures. Thus, they can provide students with an invaluable resource.

Personal frequency modulation (FM) systems are also kinds of assistive listening devices. These systems work with specific frequencies which have been dedicated to assistive listening devices by the Federal Communications Commission. These kinds of assistive listening devices work like miniature radio stations. The speaker uses a transmitter that communicates directly to the listeners special ALD or hearing aid. Many theaters, lecture halls, and places of worship have found great success in improving communication through personal frequency modulation systems.


There are also assistive listening devices that are entirely visual, and even some that are based on physical properties. These assistive listening devices can be used on their own or in addition to auditory devices. Some hard of hearing and deaf people have assistive listening devices installed in their home to let them know when an alarm goes off, when there is someone at the door, when it is time to wake up in the morning. A doorbell, for example, might be connected to a strobe light. A watch or alarm clock may be connected to a small vibrator that goes off hourly or at a specified time. Closed captioned television is also an example of a visual assisted listening device.

If there is a child in your life who is deaf, you should know that there has been government legislation regarding education and hearing impaired students. According to the American Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, hearing impaired children have the right to assistive listening devices that will allow them to understand their teachers and other relating instruction.


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