What is Assistive Listening

Assistive Listening Devices, often referred to as ALDs, are technologies that assist the hearing impaired members of society who struggle to hear properly in busy or noisy environment, or in situations where there is a significant distance between themselves and the sound they wish to hear.

Assistive Listening Devices function by capturing a desired sound source and transmitting it directly to a receiver that in-turn delivers it directly to the user’s ear, without background noise, interference or distortion. The three main technologies utilised to perform this task are Audio Induction Loops, Infra-Red and R.F. (radio frequency).

In many countries around the world legislation has been put in place stating that ALDs are now legally required by in any public place where it is important that a hearing impaired member of society is given the same opportunity to hear messages, speakers, or any other sound as clearly as anyone else. Examples of this legislation can be found in national building codes and ant-discrimination laws such the UK Equality 2010, Americans with Disabilities Act 2008 and Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act.

To ensure that Assistive Listening Devices function as they are intended to, providing a genuine benefit to the hearing impaired users, internationally governed Standards of operation have been created (such as EN60118-4: 2006, which dictates induction loop operation).

These Standards not only ensure quality, but also actively discourage facility operators from installing low systems which do not function as intended in an attempt to comply with legislation whilst reducing costs.

The three main assistive listening technologies (audio induction loop, infra-red and R.F.) each have both positive and limiting factors which may or may not suit a specific application.

Ampetronic believe that induction loops provide the best all-round assistive listening solution. This opinion is shared by most knowledgeable installers and venue operators and he led to induction loop becoming the default solution in most countries.

A Comparison of Assistive listening Technologies

For the end user (hearing impaired individuals)

 

Loops

Infra-Red

FM (RF)

Provides direct sound

Uses hearing aid for optimised sound (without additional neck loops)

No receivers (simple, hygienic)

Discreet (no discrimination)

Doesn’t require line of sight

Suitable for ‘transient’ use (e.g. transport & retail)

For the service provider, venue operator or specifier

 

Loops

Infra-Red

FM (RF)

No receivers (major cost saving)

Doesn't require building modification

No licensing required

Can be confidential (not received outside intended area)

Suitable for 'transient' use

Doesn't require line of sight

Isn't affected by daylight or windows