Important Sounds Can Be Hard to Notice With Hearing Loss

For those suffering with severe to profound hearing loss, assistive listening devices can make a huge difference in your ability to understand the TV and voices in difficult listening situations. My two go-to devices are a streaming microphone and a TV streamer. If you have your hearing aids synced to your phone (and if you don’t, please ask for a demonstration), you know how much clearer it is hearing the phone call through the hearing aids. The streamers do the same for the TV and live voice. Putting a microphone on the person you are with allows you to still hear others while the person with the microphone comes in loud and clear above all others. They can talk to you in a normal-level voice and be understood. This is especially useful in medical and professional appointments.

Public Facility Assistive Listening Systems

Any large room with a lot of people is difficult for those with moderately severe, severe, and profound hearing loss. Even if it’s just one speaker with a microphone and professionally installed audio systems throughout the room (church, movie theater, conference center), you will likely still struggle to hear. The issue is distance. As sound travels through distance, the low frequencies (250Hz to 1,000Hz), where loudness of speech comes from, carry a good distance. The higher-frequency sounds (1,000Hz to 6,000Hz), where the clarity and understanding of speech come from, don’t have near as much energy. So you hear the loudness of the vowels but don’t understand what’s being said because the consonants did not reach your ears. Using an ALD system allows the sound to be carried on a wireless wave until it reaches your hearing aid, where it is converted into an acoustical signal in the same manner as your synced smartphone.

There are three types of assistive listening device systems. Hearing aids equipped with telecoils will work with two of the systems. Streaming mics are often equipped with telecoils, if your hearing aids do not have it included. The remaining infrared system must be used with conspicuous headphones, which most refuse to wear. Infrared systems are often used in movie theaters as they’re the cheapest way to meet ADA requirements.

Amplified Telephones

Amplified phones allow you to increase the volume of the ringer and the volume of the voice coming through the receiver. On most amplified phones, you can raise the volume 35 decibels or more.

Many amplified phones also come with “emergency memory” — settings that allow you to call people remotely if you’re in an emergency situation.


Telephone Amplifiers

Phone amplifiers let you boost the volume of your landline telephone and adjust the tone, which helps with clarity and reduces background noise. They’re compatible for most corded home and office phones.

Portable telephone amplifiers are also available for those who travel often but still need a boost in volume and clarity during conversation.


Fire Alarms

Amplified fire alarms emit much louder tones than traditional fire alarms. Many will flash when activated, and options include a flashing wireless alert for your bedside. Some alarms also shake or vibrate the bed as an additional safety measure.


Personal Sound Amplifiers

Personal sound amplifiers are similar to hearing aids, but they aren’t programmed to your unique hearing loss. In fact, they aren’t FDA approved to treat hearing loss, and most work by amplifying all sounds — even the ones you hear just fine. This could lead to hearing damage. Wearers are urged to use caution.


TV Listening Systems

Make TV watching easy with these systems that allow you to listen to TV without disturbing others. They’re ideal for late-night watching.

Many hearing aids come equipped with a telecoil (or T-coil), which can pick up sounds from systems that use induction loops. These systems are available for installation in your home, and they’re great for homes with multiple hearing aid users.

If you prefer listening to the TV with headphones, wireless sets are available. Some cover your entire ear and allow you to wear your hearing aids. Other styles are worn more like a doctor’s stethoscope, with smaller speakers that sit directly in your ear. This style typically requires you to remove your hearing aids.

There are also closed-caption boxes that decode dialog and display it on your television, so you can read and hear at the same time.


Alarm Clocks

Amplified alarm clocks sound off at a higher volume than typical alarm clocks. They feature up to 30 decibels more sound than a typical alarm clock, and some even include a physical vibration for extra assurance.

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