Home » Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) for people with hearing loss

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) for people with hearing loss

For general information about ALDs, this is the place to be! If you’re interested in information about specific devices or where to buy one, please visit the ALD portion of our Resource Directory.

  • What is an assistive listening device?
  • What Kinds of ALDs Are There?
  • Who can benefit from an assistive listening device?
  • Where can I buy an assistive listening device?

Some people also include alerting devices in the ALD category. These are things like visual smoke alarms, alarm clocks, doorbells, etc. Click here if you’re interested in one of those.

June 2002 – New to Assistive Listening Devices? Or maybe you know someone who could use a good introduction to the various devices on the market. Here’s a great primer from the League for the Hard of Hearing. Note that they include alerting devices in their definition of ALDs.

April 2003 – Did you know that many tourist attractions offer some sort of ALD for people with hearing loss? Here’s a report by full-time RVer Jan Christensen.

July 2003 – Here’s Cheryl Heppner’s report covering an SHHH Convention workshop on how to overcome noise, reverberation, and distance by using directional microphones and ALDs.

December 2003 – Want to know how you can use ALDs to hear better in the presence of background noise? Here’s Neil Bauman to tell you all about it!

What is an assistive listening device?

Assistive listening devices (ALDs) include a large variety of devices designed to improve audibility in specific listening situations. Some are designed to be used with hearing aids or cochlear implants (CIs), while others are designed to be used alone. Many that are used in conjunction with hearing aids require a telecoil (T-switch).

While there are a bewildering variety of microphones, pickups, headphones, earphones, etc., that comprise assistive listening devices, they all have the same goal: to emphasize the ONE signal that you are interested in. That signal might be a faraway voice (e.g., a lecturer in an auditorium), or a relatively near signal that gets lost in other noise (e.g., listening to TV while others are talking nearby, or trying to converse in a restaurant).

Assistive listening devices can usually amplify a signal, but their primary purpose isn’t to make a signal louder. Rather, they place a pickup (microphone) close to the sound source, so that it becomes louder compared to the other sounds in the environment. Assistive listening devices improve your ability to hear because they make the desired sound stand out from the background noise.

What Kinds of ALDs Are There?

There are two basic types of assistive listening devices; those intended for personal use and those intended for group use.

Who can benefit from an assistive listening device?

Anyone with some amount of residual hearing can benefit from an assistive listening device. A person who is able to converse one-on-one in a quiet room without lipreading 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 lipreading clues.