The Disability Programs and Resource Center

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Assistive Listening Devices

Are you having difficulty hearing your instructors' lectures? Do you struggle daily to understand the spoken word? Do people seem to be mumbling or not enunciating clearly enough? These are signs that you may have a mild or moderate hearing loss. Think there is nothing you can do about it but suffer "in silence"? Well, think again because there is a wide variety of technological resources available that might make listening much easier.

Not everyone can or wants to use a hearing aid. Hearing aids are also expensive. An alternative technology is the assistive listening device (ALD). An ALD consists of a small, portable electronic transmitter and receiver both of which are relatively unobtrusive. The transmitter picks up an instructor's speech by microphone and sends it to the receiver by either an infrared or FM radio signal. The DPRC offers devices that rely on an FM signal because they do not require the receiver and transmitter to have an unblocked line of sight, which is not the case with infrared ALDs. The user wears a headset similar to that of a portable stereo, or a neckloop or Silhouette to use with a hearing aid. ALDs run on rechargeable batteries which last about eight hours depending on use, usually more than enough for an average school day. The instructor wears the lightweight transmitter with a microphone that can be clipped to the lapel. The user, in turn, wears the receiver with the appropriate attachment (i.e. headset, neckloop or Silhouette).

ALDs help not only by amplifying the instructor's speech but also by blocking out extraneous environmental noises. Since the microphone is close to the speaker's mouth and further away from bothersome background noise, the user will be able to hear cleaner, louder speech. ALDs work most effectively in lecture situations and less so in situations where there are multiple speakers such as seminars.

Some who have benefitted from using ALDs include individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss, individuals with Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and individuals who have an acquired brain injury.

The DPRC will loan ALDs to those eligible at no cost. Those interested in learning more about this service should speak to a DPRC counselor for a referral to the ALD Loan Program. An audiogram from a licensed audiologist along with a recommendation for this service are required.

Audiological screening is available at the Communicative Disorders Clinic in Burk Hall 114, (415) 338-1001. For additional information, point your browser to

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