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Assistive Technology Devices for the Deaf

Posted Jan 12 2011 11:00am

Generally listening devices are called assisted listening devices or ALDs. There numerous types of listening devices. Some of the most popular listening devices include the following: bone anchored hearing aid, over the ear hearing aid, cochlear implant, and hearing receivers. A listening device is designed to amplify or modulate sounds for the individual using the device. The first types of listening devices were called ear horns or ear trumpets. They usually looked like a funnel and the individual with a hearing problem would hold it up to their ear so they could hear another person talking. The ear horns were the stepping stone for modern hearing aids. The modern hearing aid is generally an electric device that fits behind or inside the wearer's ear and it gathers sounds and directs it into the ear canal.

Due to technological advances in recent years, many auditory and non-auditory devices are available to help meet the communication needs of the deaf and the hearing impaired. These devices are collectively known as Assistive Technology, Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs), or Hearing Assistance Technology (HAT). These help facilitate improved face-to-face communication, reception of electronic media, telephone reception, and reception of important warning sounds and situations.

The most common types of hearing aids are behind the ear aids and in the ear aids. The hearing aids that go behind the ear usually come with a small plastic case that attaches to the back of the ear and uses a small tube with a speaker to transmit sound to the ear canal. The ear mold that is placed inside the ear is custom-made to the wearer's ear to minimize discomfort. Most individuals that use behind the ear hearing aids have mild hearing loss.

Another listening device is called a wireless receiver. Individuals with mild hearing loss can use the wireless receiver to enhance the sounds around them. Generally these listening devices can be held by the user, placed on a countertop or on top of a television. The device will have a microphone and speaker and will be able to pick up the sounds around it and send them to the user through the speaker. It is similar to an FM radio or to a CD player. Some listening devices allow the user to place small speakers inside their ears and the listening device will have a microphone attached to it, transmitting the sounds to the user.

FM listening systems are becoming popular for individuals with moderate hearing problems. The FM receiver works in conjunction with a hearing aid. The FM receiver allows the user to give a wireless microphone to their partner to wear when they talk. The voice will be transmitted to the hearing aid, eliminating background noise. Out of all the listening devices, the FM receiver is the best hearing aid for speech understanding. Another unique aspect of the FM receiver is its ability to be hooked up to the radio or television. New FM receivers are being developed that look similar to a Bluetooth phone device.

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