Assistive listening devices can go by many names including personal listening device, assistive listening systems or personal amplifiers but they are all essentially the same type of device. They help to amplify the speech or the sound you want over all other noise. So they aren’t quiet a hearing aid but have some of the same features of a hearing aid. The job of an ALD is usually a combination of the following:
Boost the volume of what or who you are listening too, which can include speech only amplification
Minimize the background noise around you to make speech easier to hear
Improve poor acoustics such as echo or distortion (tv and music as an example)
Some assistive listening devices include more advance noise cancelling technology, apps to control settings and features or specifically amplify speech so they are more advanced than those sound amplifiers you see featured in late night commercials. Some like IQbuds Boost are actually classified as an ‘intelligent’ earbud offering a suite of advanced functions.
What Are the Different Assistive Listening Devices?
There are different devices for different situations.
Amplified Phones – Designed to amplify speech and make it easier to hear the caller on the other end they come in standard and cordless versions.
TV Listening Devices – Like the Vitasound P200 for instance it is designed to amplify the tv volume for just you and no one else. It’s perfect for those that have family complaining that the TV is too loud.
Personal Amplifiers – Like the Vitasound P300 it’s an all round amplifier that works for conversations, TV, talking on the phone but includes an ipod sized electronic device that must be carried around in a pocket or purse or worn around the neck. They can include noise cancelling features to help hear in loud environments and a mode to help bring relief from Tinitus as well.
Intelligent Personal Amplifiers – Like IQbuds Boost which has even been compared to entry level hearing aids at a fraction of the cost. The are a truly wireless earbud that works off bluetooth and can connects with a smart phone to stream calls, music, connect with Google Assistant or Siri for voice commands and includes an app that helps to customize the earbuds for your specific hearing needs.
When Is An Assistive Listening Device is Right For You?
Which assistive listening device is right for you depends on the situation you need help listening in. If it’s simply phone calls that are the most difficult than a amplified phone would make sense, or a personal audio amplifer could also be used but only if you also need help in other situations. If you struggle to hear the TV when listening with family or want to listen in bed while your partner sleeps then an TV listening device is your best bet and much more comfortable than those bulky headsets found at electronic stores. If you need help at work or in noisy environments and most areas of your life than a personal audio amplifier is a better option for you. They typically include some level of noise cancelling and work great in loud environments such as work, restaurants, malls, downtown areas etc. Which device you choose can also come down to budget, convenience and more. For instance a Vitasound P300 device is less expensive than IQbuds or IQbuds Boost but also requires you to carry around in your pocket or purse the amplification device. Where as IQbuds fit in your ear and are more discreet. IQbuds Boost also offer a suite of additional features such as advanced noise cancelling and a smart phone app that will test your hearing and customize the earbuds for specifically your hearing challenges. Which is why they are considered a bridge between personal amplifiers and a hearing aid. Obviously these extra features come with a price but depending on your situation you may find it worth it and if you break out the cost of time, efficiency and daily use they may actually not seem that much more.