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, neckloop, or Silhouette to use with a hearing aid or Cochlear Implant.

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 (CAPD), and individuals who have an acquired brain injury (ABI).

The DPRC loans out ALDs to those eligible to receive them at no cost on a semester basis.  If you are interested in learning more about this accommodation, please schedule an appointment with the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Specialist by contacting the DPRC at 415/338-2472 (voice/TTY) or  

Useful tips are also available on how to use ALDs effectively for academic and non-academic purposes.