One out of five American adults lives with varying levels of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be very isolating, though it doesn’t have to be. Assistive listening systems allow people to hear in difficult listening environments.
In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, mandates that in any public space where audio is integral to the use of the space, an assistive listening system is required (see ADA—216.10).
There are three types of assistive listening technologies: radio frequency (RF), infrared (IR), and induction loop (or hearing loop). Each of these technologies sends the audio signal to a personal receiver or directly to the user’s hearing aid, eliminating the ambient room noise, allowing them to focus on the intended message.
In addition, a fourth, emerging technology, is available—audio delivered by Wi-Fi for a personal listening experience.
Radio Frequency Systems
RF works by transmitting signals over radio frequencies to a personal receiver.
- Wide coverage with no line-of-sight issues, both indoors and outdoors
- Typically, the least expensive system to purchase and install
An IR assistive listening system uses infrared light to transmit audio, much like a television remote control.
- IR is line-of-sight technology, and is therefore very secure for confidential transmission
- To achieve maximum range and coverage of an IR system, emitter/radiators (often multiple) need to cover the listening area
Induction Loop Systems
In an induction loop assistive listening system, a copper wire connected to a loop driver is installed around the room; creating an induction field that can be picked up by hearing aids with a telecoil, or cochlear implants.
- Preferred by users as they simply turn a switch in their hearing aid, allowing for a discreet and dignified experience
- No need to for the venue to manage and dispense receivers
The following chart lists six mission-critical applications requiring assistive listening:
Click the image below to enlarge the Assistive Listening Technologies infographic:
Carrie Keele is the corporate marketing manager for Listen Technologies.