Assistive Listening Devices: Portable Amplifiers for Personal Use

4 Assistive Listening Devices that Enhance Life for the Hearing Impaired

Portable Assistive Listening Devices boost hearing in noisy places

Assistive listening devices enhance the quality of life for people with mild to moderate hearing impairment due to aging or the environment.

Hearing loss isolates the hearing impaired from everyday life. Conversations become difficult to follow, movie plots become confusing, and critical portions of classroom lectures disappear. Everyday interactions with friends and family become frustrating.

A portable amplifier for personal use is an assistive listening device that can dramatically increase the quality of life for the moderately hearing impaired and their families. By amplifying voices and other sounds both in and out of the home, portable amplifiers improve the ability of the hearing impaired to participate in activities and reduce frustrating miscommunications.

Portable amplifiers can be wired or wireless; for single or for group use. Different systems exist not only to fit the needs of the listener, but also to assist public venues wishing to provide amplification for all segments of their audience.

A varied selection of portable personal amplifiers is available from AudioLink to fit your budget and lifestyle. Here are 4 examples of portable personal amplifiers that can enhance your life.

1. Personal and Portable Assistive Listening Devices for Your Pocket

With their portability, simplicity, and affordability, portable personal amplifiers are useful in an enormous range of situations from personal and telephone conversations to meetings and movies.

A small amplifier (often carried in a shirt pocket) uses an attached mic to pick up sounds close to the listener, which are then boosted and played through an attached headset or earbud. With this type of assistive listening device, tone and volume are fully adjustable to compensate for the degree and frequency range of the user’s hearing loss.

Since the microphone, amplifier, and speaker are integrated into their design, thes ALD’s are ideal for use in any situation requiring amplification, without relying on audio transmissions from outside sources. Most, however, are compatible with existing systems in theaters, halls, or other venues.

Williams Sound makes two personal listening systems: the Pocketalker Pro and the PockeTalker Ultra. The Ultra is lighter, has a silver/gray color, and takes AAA Batteries; and the Pro is blue, features a sturdier casing, and takes AA batteries.

PockeTalkers are elegant in their simplicity. They use a small microphone and built-in amplifier, and all the user has to do is set the volume level.  PockeTalkers accommodate a wide variety of headsets and earphones and can be worn with neckloop receivers if the wearer uses a telecoil hearing aid.

Both the PockeTalker Pro and the Ultra feature listening cords designed to plug directly into the output of a TV or other audio component, enabling the wearer to hear audio content without cranking up the volume of the set.

Since the volume level is individually set on each unit, multiple users with different degrees of hearing loss can hear the same source at personally comfortable volume levels. And since there’s no wireless technology involved, there’s no danger of radio interference between multiple units.

2. Personal Amplifiers with Portable Transmitters

With classroom presentations, a microphone may not amplify the sound of a lecturer when no seat is available at the head of the class. For intimate conversation in crowded restaurants, it may be a strain to hear your partner over background noise, even with an ALD such as a PockeTalker.

In these situations, a portable transmitter system is an ideal assistive listening device.

Portable transmitter systems feature a microphone which passes a signal to a transmitter, which then broadcasts audio to a receiver. The receiver boosts the signal and allows the user to hear the sound in a headset and adjust the volume to a comfortable setting.

Users of this type of assistive listening device can give the microphone and transmitter to their companions, enabling intimate conversation in noisy public places.

The transmitter can be placed near any sound source, allowing the listener to sit anywhere in its range and easily hear the audio content. In a venue such as a classroom, for example, users place the microphone and transmitter close to the professor to clearly hear the lecture from almost anywhere in the hall.

Some systems feature optional environmental microphones to pick up ambient sound in relatively quiet spaces (such as an enclosed vehicle) to enhance conversations with multiple participants. Some also can electronically filter background noise.

An example of a portable transmitter system is the Listen Tech LSO5072, which is designed for a user to take to school, a training facility, or any other public space where hearing may be difficult.

3. Tour Guide Systems Used as Assistive Listening Devices

In museums, galleries, or other public places where a speaker wishes to reach an entire group of hearing impaired persons who may have different levels of hearing loss, clear communication becomes a challenge. Simply raising the voice will strain the speaker’s vocal chords, and can annoy other tourists.

In these situations, portable transmitter systems such as the Listen Tech LSO5072 could be expanded to include additional receivers.

However, other assistive listening devices are ideally suited to tour guides. Tour guide systems enhance communications with large groups of listeners. Tour guide systems are designed for easy portability and multiple listeners. Some feature sturdy road cases that double as battery chargers for transmitters and receivers.

These systems are expandable simply by purchasing more receivers or more transmitters, so it’s easy to increase the size of the group. Many systems feature multiple channels as well, so several speakers can deliver separate audio content to different group members at the same time.

These systems broadcast on FM frequencies reserved specifically for use by the hearing impaired. Systems such as those made by Williams Sound and Listen Tech are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant as well.

One example of this kind of ALD system is the Listen Tech LS-06-072, featuring a 150-foot broadcasting range that gives freedom of motion in public spaces of up to 60,000 square feet. Like other portable transmitter systems, content can come from either a guide or an audio source such as an mp3 or CD player.

4. Fixed Transmitter Systems for Public Spaces

Unlike mobile tour guide systems, fixed transmitter systems use stationary base stations to broadcast an audio program to any number of receivers. As such, they’re ideal choices for churches, movie theaters, and lecture halls seeking to provide ADA compliant assistive listening devices or reach out to a wider audience.

Since audio content can come not only from CD and other media players, but also from a PA system used by a speaker, fixed transmitter systems are adaptable to almost any kind of public presentation or event.

An example of an entry-level fixed transmitter system is the Nady ALD800 RF System, which is expandable by purchasing additional receivers.

A system such as the Listen Tech LS-01-072 is compatible with users’ existing assistive listening devices, making it unnecessary for the hearing impaired to use their own portable transmitters.

Many different ALD’s can enhance life for the hearing impaired

Portable personal amplifiers can ease the frustration of the hard-of-hearing during conversations, movies, plays, and classes. These 4 systems are just a few examples of the wide variety of assistive listening devices that improve the quality of life of the hearing impaired.

Simply being able to hear conversations is only one of the aspects of life that change with hearing loss. Tasks such as answering the door or telephone can become difficult as well. Other ALD’s for home use enhance the functionality of existing systems such as TV & home entertainment systems, telephone systems, doorbells, alarm clocks, and vibrating wristwatches.

If you have questions, email AudioLink or call our experts at 407-757-3326! They’ll help you find a portable amplifier system or other personal assistive listening device that fits your needs and budget.