People with all types and degrees of hearing loss, even people with normal hearing, may benefit from an assistive listening device (ALD). Typically, a hearing aid makes all sounds in the environment louder. ALDs can increase the loudness of a desired sound–such as a radio, television, or a public speaker–without increasing the loudness of the background noises. This is because the microphone of the assistive listening device is placed close to the talker or device of interest, while the microphone of the hearing aid is always close to the listener.
Many types of ALDs are available for home use and larger public facilities. Some ALDs include alarm clocks, TV listening systems, telephone amplifying devices, and auditorium-type assistive listening systems. Many newer devices are small, wireless, and compatible with a person’s digital hearing aids. The ALD may be something small that is attached directly to the hearing aid, is activated through a program in the hearing aid, or is worn around the neck and transmits sounds wirelessly to the hearing aids. Alarms and other home ALDs may be small devices that are placed discreetly on tables, next to the TV, or on the wall.