Assistive Listening Systems or ALSs are also known as Assistive Listening Devices or ALDs. They are essentially amplifiers which transmit sound directly into the ear. Besides separating sounds, they also separate speech so that a person can differentiate them from the background noise. Research shows that people who cannot hear well require a volume increase of 15 to 25 dB to acquire the same level of understanding as those who have normal hearing. An ALS allows them to embrace this convenience without making it too loud for others. There are 3 main components in each ALS: a microphone, a transmission technology, and a device which receives the signal and brings the sound into the ear. ALSs are used by people with varying degrees of hearing disability, ranging from mild to severe. But hearing aids or cochlear implants suffer from performance limitations and do not work efficiently in all situations. ALSs cater to listening challenges in three ways: they minimize the background noise, they reduce the effect of distance between the sound source and the person suffering from deafness, and they overcome poor acoustics such as echoes. People can use ALSs in places of employment, entertainment, education, and for personal use as well. ALSs utilize technologies like FM, infrared or inductive loop.
FM systems are the kind of assistive listening devices that use radio broadcast technology. They are frequently used in educational settings and provide mobility and flexibility when combined with portable transmitters worn on the body. Infrared systems are the type of ALSs that utilize light-based technology on the other hand. They ensure privacy since light does not pass through walls. Loop systems can also be used by those without hearing aids through the use of a headphone and an inductive loop receiver.
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