Hearing Products

Assistive Listening Devices

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) and Hearing Assistive Technologies (HATs) are both terms used interchangeably. They are personal technologies designed to help people communicate better in one-to-one conversations. 

ALDs are usually hand-held amplifiers with microphones that bring sounds closer to the ears. Some of these devices may be capable of filtering some background noise. 

There are other personal devices such as wireless FM devices that can be acquired from audiologists as ancillary equipment to cochlear implants and hearing aids.

Assistive Listening Devices vs. Hearing Aids

At a glance, assistive listening devices and hearing aids may be easily confused with each other. However, when you look into details, these devices have some distinct differences that set them apart from each other.

Basic differences

When it comes to aesthetics and design, hearing aids are a lot smaller and can be worn around or behind the ear. Assistive listening devices are bulkier because of the microphone box and wires.
The main purpose of assistive listening devices is to amplify sounds. Meanwhile, hearing aids can be fine-tuned to accentuate sounds while filtering out or lowering background noises.


Assistive listening devices can be useful in specific situations as a standalone device or as an addition to another device, like a hearing aid. Unlike hearing aids, ALDs are not intended to be worn all the time. In fact, there are some people using ALDs that don’t necessarily need hearing aids.

Hearing aids come with more sophisticated technology and are meant for long-term use. While ALD’s main purpose is to literally turn up the volume of the existing sound source, hearing aids can adjust and improve a person’s hearing over time.

So which one is better? Hearing aids or assistive listening devices? Neither is better than the other – it all depends on the hearing requirements of a person.

Types of Assistive Listening Devices

Generally, there are five types of assistive listening devices:

Audio induction or hearing loop

Sound is transmitted through a microphone, amplifier, and wiring that surrounds the listening area. This can be used in smaller spaces to improve one-on-one communication.

Hearing loops work by eliminating background noise, allowing the listener to hear the speaker’s voice clearly at a comfortable listening volume. Loops are ideal for large spaces with poor acoustic features such as those with high ceilings, hard floors, or big open spaces. These devices are also helpful in settings where many people are talking at once, like at a restaurant, grocery store or bank.

Hearing aid users can also benefit from T-coils. They can switch or program their hearing aid to the T-coil setting or go near the wired area. People without hearing aids can still benefit from loop systems by using a portable device with headphones.

Infrared system

Infrared systems transmit sound wirelessly through invisible light beams. This system is commonly used in churches, auditoriums, and theaters. Infrared systems can only be used indoors because sunlight may interfere with transmission.

FM system

FM systems transmit sound wirelessly through radio waves. The listener wears a portable receiver in the form of a headphone, a neck loop, or similar accessories. Meanwhile, the speaker wears a compact transmitter and microphone. FM Systems are commonly used for group meetings, conferences, church settings, or classroom settings.

Personal amplified system

This is a portable device that transmits sound through a microphone/transmitted directly to an earphone or neck loop. This is ideal for one-on-one conversations or TV listening. Personal amplified systems allow the wearer to listen to the TV at their desired level without having to raise the volume for everyone in the room.

Bluetooth systems

Bluetooth systems transmit sound through Wi-Fi and can work directly with hearing aids that are Bluetooth-capable. People with hearing loss who are not using hearing aids can use a tablet or smartphone to connect wirelessly. Individuals with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids can use a smartphone or tablet with earphones to connect to the wirelessly transmitted sound. The ideal assistive listening devices will depend on your hearing requirements and communication accessibility needs.

What is the most commonly used assistive listening device?

Loops are considered to be the most user-friendly assistive listening option and a crowd favorite. Perhaps it’s because hearing loops are simple, effective, and discreet. Users can simply switch their devices to the telecoil program and readily receive clear and customized audio directly to their ears.

Why are Assistive Listening Devices Necessary?

Assistive listening devices can provide enhanced auditory signals for better reception of telecommunication and media signals. ALDs can substitute visual communication in lieu of auditory communication when necessary and can help monitor essential sounds in the environment through vision or tactile sensations.

Several studies have shown that wireless remote microphone technology can significantly improve speech recognition in challenging listening environments. An audiologist can discuss with you the pros and cons of assistive listening devices or hearing aids and can recommend what would be most beneficial for your hearing requirements.

For individuals with greater degrees of hearing loss, assistive listening devices can supplement hearing aids by providing clearer communication in certain listening environments. Assistive listening devices can boost alertness to sounds and situations that otherwise might not be heard under difficult listening situations or when the hearing aids are not in use.

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Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Hearing Aids in Sugar Land, TX

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