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ASSISTIVE LISTENING
AND
ALERTING DEVICES

 

ALD

Gosh, it seems like there are as many assistive listening devices (ALD) as there are degrees of hearing loss and its causes (there aren't, really, but it can seem that way).  Assistive listening devices are NOT one size fits all.  Depending upon the setting and situation, a deaf or hard of hearing individual might have two or more different kinds of ALDs.  

Most hearing people do not have experience with ALDs, and sometimes the DHH consumer is new to the idea, as well.  Sometimes, the consumer has extensive experience with one kind of ALD, but might not know there are other devices that could be more effective in a specific situation.  While on assignment, the interpreter might be more knowledgeable than the consumers are about ALD systems, their use, and applications.  This being a possibility, it behooves interpreting students and fledgling interpreters to have basic information about the types of ALDs available and how they are most typically used, as well as their limitations.

Additionally, while the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct does restrict interpreters from advising consumers, it does not restrict interpreters from providing resource or contact information to consumers who might benefit from learning more from those qualified to advise, such as ALD professionals.  With this in mind, interpreters might wish to have one or more URLs a small notebook or in the interpreter's PDA and at the ready.

ADVANTAGES

... to be continued.

DISADVANTAGES 

... to be continued.

USERS 

Persons with some residual hearing can benefit from an assistive listening device. A person who is able to converse one-on-one in a quiet room without speech reading would get a lot of benefit from assistive listening devices, because a properly used ALD can duplicate that quality of sound. People with less residual hearing will benefit from the use of an assistive listening device, because the device will provide extra speech reading clues.

SYSTEMS 

Infra-Red Systems

Infrared systems use harmless, invisible light beams in the infrared range of the spectrum. Infrared light emitters can be connected to the existing sound or PA (public address) system. Sound is relayed to the emitters, which are located at various points in the listening area. There are also self-contained, portable, battery-powered combination microphone amplifiers and infrared emitters. The emitters convert the acoustic signal (e.g., speech) to infrared light and transmit these light waves throughout the listening area. The light waves are picked up by a photocell on the receiver worn by the listener and converted back to sound through the earphones.

 

Receivers* can be: Image shows an example of an infra-red (IR) ALD system.

  1. "Stethoscope" models connected to receivers hanging under the chin

  2. Headphones

  3. Body packs with jacks for use with ear buds for those not wearing hearing aids, or with neck-loops or silhouettes for those using tele-coils ("T" switches**) on hearing aids. 

  4. Direct audio input (DAI), which connects the hearing aid directly to the receiver via a "boot," "shoe," or plug and cord can also be used.
 

Only infrared receivers with jacks can be used by people with cochlear implants, DAI, or hearing aids with "T" switches.
** A neck loop attachment is needed for use with hearing aids that have "T" switches.

 

Infrared assistive listening devices offer impressive clarity and intelligibility regardless of where a person is sitting. 


Infrared works best in a darkened room with light colored walls which makes it ideal for the theater. 

It does not, however, work outdoors. 

Infrared is also unable to penetrate solid barriers, such as walls. 

Line-of-sight placement of the emitters is preferred, but since IR is like light, it can bounce off reflecting surfaces and fill a room unless blocked by a solid barrier. 

Infrared is the only system that allows for confidential or private transmission in a closed room.

Persons with mild to moderate/severe hearing loss benefit from the use of IR systems.

 

Frequency Modulation Systems* (FM)

Sound coming through a microphone or PA system is fed into an FM transmitter. The transmitter broadcasts the signal to the listening area utilizing the special frequency FM radio band designated by the FCC for this use. Listeners have a personal FM receiver and earphones (or ear buds) to pick up the signal, adjusting the volume to their individual needs. Image shows an example of an FM ALD system with transmitter and receiver with ear buds.

* Hearing aid users set their aids to the tele-coil ("T") switch and wear a neck loop or silhouette connected to their individually worn FM receivers.
* Cochlear Implant users can use a patch cord to plug directly into the receivers. 
* Direct audio input is also available for FM systems.

 

FM systems have excellent sound quality and some are completely portable. That is, the transmitter can be taken to any room for use with a public address amplifier; or that some FM systems can be purchased with portable units used by the speaker. All receivers are, of course, portable.

Users can listen anywhere within a several hundred-foot range indoors and outdoors. However, FM transmits through walls and for some distance, so nearby rooms should use different frequencies or channels to prevent interference. For this reason, FM may be inappropriate for private or confidential use. Even though a special FM band has been established by the FCC, there may be interference from a variety of sources over these wave lengths.

People with mild to moderate hearing loss can benefit from the use of an FM system.

 

Induction Audio Loop

A loop of insulated wire circling the listening area receives an electrical impulse from an amplifier that has been placed in a microphone or other signal source close to the speaker. In order to use the system, listeners must physically be within the loop area. A magnetic field within the loop is picked up by the tele-coil ("T" switch) on the listener's hearing aid(s) or by a separate tele-coil-equipped induction receiver with an earpiece and volume control. The magnetic field is then reconverted through the hearing aid to sound. Fluorescent lighting can interfere with transmission and the electromagnetic signal can spill over into adjacent areas or rooms.

 

  CM-3 Conference Microphone

Image shows an example of a conference microphone. The CM-3 conference microphone has been designed to enhance the reception range for a wide variety of personal assistive listening devices, cassette recorders, and digital voice recorders.

With CM-3, there is no need for passing the microphone around or to miss out on faint voices during play-back of the meeting recordings.

 

 

 

 

Hearing Aids

    Telecoil

        Commonly found in telephones and speakers
       
Subject to electro-magnetic interference
        

    Microphone

    Digital

    Analog

 

Cochlear ImplantsImage shows a cochlear implant user with external (removable) components in place.

Also see our Cochlear Implants page.

... to be continued.

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ALERTING DEVICES

 

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... to be continued.

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This page was edited: 09/15/2009
This page has been visited Hit Counter times since: May 2009.
TerpTopics is a trademark and service mark of TerpTopics, LLC. © 2008; 2009. All rights reserved.

TerpTopics™ is an independent entity; as such does not claim or attempt to claim, represent, or imply by any means whatsoever that it is associated with any other entity that may or may not offer services, goods, or information of interest to interpreter, Deaf, or student communities.  The opinions expressed here those of TerpTopics unless otherwise stated.  Please keep in mind that, while every effort is made to present correct, appropriate, and reasonable information that is based on our experience, anecdotal experiences of others, or developed during the general course of study and professional development, we do not represent TerpTopics as having cornered the market on wisdom (heck, no!) or experience; one reason why links to several other good and reliable resources are made available throughout this site, and we hope that earnest seekers of knowledge will take advantage of them.

 

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Gifts, goodies, and prezzies!  Shop 'til you drop!!  =)

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Movies, movies, and MORE movies!!

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