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Binoculars For Your Ears: Improve Your Listening Experience with Assistive Listening Devices

From theaters and restaurants to busy office environments and even relaxing in your own living room, background noise can make it tough to hear what’s being said. If you have hearing loss, it can make it nearly impossible.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) can help enhance your listening experience. They’re available for all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound, and for many types of listening situations. They are sometimes described as “binoculars for the ears.”

Here are 6 ways assistive listening devices can help in your daily life.

1. Listening to Your TV

          You’re at home, you’re relaxing … and you need the volume up higher than everyone else in the room. Try using a personal, wireless television amplifier like TV Ears. They allow users to turn up their own personal volume without changing the volume for others in the room, and can be used with and without hearing aids.

          2. Listening in Social Situations

          Personal amplifiers are small, portable amplifiers that can be very useful in social situations where background noise can make it difficult to hear clearly. Models are available for both large and small group use. If you wear hearing aids, these systems can work with them using Bluetooth or “loop” technology common in many public venues and locations. Bonus? No need to carry around special headphones.

          3. Listening in a Classroom

          From classrooms and lecture halls to listening to a speaker at an afternoon coffee, assistive listening devices such as FM systems are ideal for people who need to hear a specific speaker in a potentially noisy environment. They use the same technology as a radio station or a two-way radio to deliver audio to your ears using an RF receiver and earphones. The system uses a small transmitter with an antenna to cover a large open area.

          4. Listening Over the Phone

          CapTel captioned telephones display the words a caller says throughout the conversation, in real time. They are a wonderful way to help people of all hearing levels to hear what they can and read what they miss. Captioned phones work like any other phone. There is no cost for the captioning service – and the phone itself can be available at no cost if you are certified by your doctor or audiologist.

          5. Listening to a Personal Device

          Bluetooth technology offers a whole new level of technology innovation for assistive listening devices. The technology allows two devices, such as a smartphone and a computer or tablet, to “talk” to each other. It’s convenient and hands-free. You can also use direct audio input headphones or hearing aids with any device that has an auxiliary jack. These include stereos, personal music players and TVs.

          6. Listening in a Movie Theater

          One of the first breakthroughs in auditory technology to help those with hearing loss enjoy their theater experience, assistive listening devices continue to progress and allow hard of hearing patrons to efficiently follow the movie. Practically all major movie theaters now carry headphones necessary for using assistive listening devices, that carry the audio of the film through either FM transmitters or infrared broadcast emitters.


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          FEDERAL LAW PROHIBITS ANYONE BUT REGISTERED USERS WITH HEARING LOSS FROM USING INTERNET PROTOCOL (IP) CAPTIONED TELEPHONES WITH THE CAPTIONS TURNED ON. IP Captioned Telephone Service may use a live operator. The operator generates captions of what the other party to the call says. These captions are then sent to your phone. There is a cost for each minute of captions generated, paid from a federally administered fund. No cost is passed on to the CapTel user for using the service. (v5.4 7-18)