When You Need an Extra Boost

When You Need an Extra Boost

When-you-need-an-extra-boost_CI_Pediatric_girl-in-classroom-with-friend

In addition to cochlear implants (CI), bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) and hearing aids, there are devices that can be worn, used in addition to or paired with your existing hearing devices to further improve your ability to hear in difficult listening situations. These devices are known as Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)

The goal of ALDs is to improve the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N)—the volume of what the user wants to hear (for example a speaker at the front of an audience) versus what they don’t want to hear (the background noise). The S/N is usually expressed as a ratio. For example, a S/N of 3:1 indicates that the signal (speaker) is 3x as loud as the noise (background noise).

Personal FM systems are ALDs consisting of two parts: a receiver (worn by the hearing device user) and a transmitter (worn by the speaker). The receiver is worn around the neck of the hearing device user or connects to the body of their hearing device. The transmitter is worn around the neck of the speaker and has a microphone to pick up the speaker’s voice. The speaker’s voice is then transmitted to the user’s receiver via a frequency-modulated carrier signal (FM) so that they hear the speaker’s voice clearly, without interference from any background noise in the room. These devices essentially minimize the distance between the speaker and the listener in order to reduce the negative effects of background noise on the signal.

Historically, FM systems were only seen in classrooms. However, with the improvements in technology and the size of these systems, personal FM systems have been used more by adults and children in both the workplace and at home.

Many hearing device manufacturers make ALDs that connect easily to hearing devices through an electromagnetic (loop) system with your telecoil, through Bluetooth™, or with a hard connection to your hearing device. ALDs can range from amplified telephones to vibrating pillow speakers for alarms to personal FM systems and more.

Talk to your audiologist about the challenges you face with your hearing device for recommendations for ALDs that could enhance your use of your hearing device and improve your communication and daily life.

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