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Assisstive Devices

Hearing Assistive Technology

Hearing Assistive Technology, or HAT as it is commonly referred to is technology that can help in various listening situations.

Often, a hearing aid or an implant is not enough in certain situations. In such cases, there are technologies that are designed to help people with hearing loss. These are designed to enhance telephone communication and TV reception, and ensure an effective smoke alarm or listening in various kinds of public venues. Your hearing professional should evaluate your need for one or more of these devices and direct you to the appropriate vendor.

As a matter of policy, The Hearing Network does not endorse one technology over another. We provide information about all types of technology to anyone with hearing loss looking for help.

Have you ever had difficulty hearing or understanding:

  • in meetings?
  • in places of worship?
  • in theaters or movies?
  • in restaurants?
  • with shopping transactions like at a pharmacy or bank?
  • in public places such as airports or in municipal buildings?

In those situations, an assistive listening device can help.

Hearing assistive technology such as audio loops (or hearing loop), FM, and infrared systems are like binoculars for the ears and work with or without hearing aids. These are assistive listening devices that help get past the obstacles to hearing.

The audio or hearing loop is a wire that circles a room and is connected to the sound system. The loop transmits the sound electromagnetically. The electromagnetic signal is then picked up by the telecoil in the hearing aid or cochlear implant. To use a hearing loop, one easily flips the telecoil switch on the hearing aid or cochlear implant. No additional receiver or equipment is needed. Using a telecoil and hearing loop together is seamless, cost-effective, and unobtrusive, and you don’t have to seek out and obtain special extra equipment.

An infrared system uses invisible light beams to carry sound from the source to a personal receiver. (The sound source must be in the line of sight.) Different types of attachments may be connected to the personal receiver such as a neck loop or a behind-the-ear silhouette inductor. The telecoil then picks up sound from the receiver via the attachment.

An FM system works similarly, but sound is conveyed through radio waves to a personal receiver.

These devices help us to hear and understand better in many situations where acoustics are poor, background noise is bothersome, and there is a long distance from the speaker.

In public places such as theaters, listening systems are required under the Disabilities Act to make programs and services accessible. But, you must ask for the accommodation.


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