A properly fitted hearing aid should enable you to hear normally again – or pretty close to it. But normal hearing still has its limitations. Sound gets weaker with distance and is messed up by background noise.
People with normal hearing may still struggle to hear clearly in a crowded restaurant, a vast lecture hall or a noisy Zumba class. There are plenty of hard-to-hear-in environments. That’s often true at home too. Open-plan, hardfloor living areas with cathedral ceilings may look stylish but they complicate hearing.
If you’ve got a hearing aid, though, you’ve got the option of adding an accessory or an assisted listening device to give you a better than normal experience. Some ALDs even work without a hearing aid if you don’t need or don’t wear one yet.
What are assisted listening devices and hearing aid accessories?
Assisted listening devices (ALDs) and hearing aid accessories are designed to overcome issues like distance, poor acoustics or background noise.
Each kit usually incorporates a microphone, a transmitter and a receiver to bring the sound to you using Bluetooth, radio waves, infrared light or additional amplification.
They focus on the person speaking (who’s now wearing the mic you gave them), often streaming their words right into your ears with no interference at all. That makes you the most attentive person in the room – probably the only one who doesn’t miss a single word that’s said from the podium.
Choosing the best system depends on your needs – if you’re a Grey Nomad, spending time on the road, and want to filter out road noise, you’ll need a different system than someone looking forward to Friday nights dinner party.
When can an ALD or accessory help?
Think about the different environments you spend time in each week. When do you find it hard to hear despite wearing your hearing aid? Those are the situations when a hearing aid accessory can improve your experience.
- TV: If you watch TV in a small, enclosed room, then your hearing aid should mean you can now watch at a normal volume. But many homes are not set up like this. If you sit several metres away from a large-screen TV in an open-plan living area where there are competing sounds like the kettle or dishwasher, you may still find yourself cranking up the volume to overcome distance and background noise.
A hearing aid accessory or ALD streams pure sounds from your TV directly into your ears, eliminating background noise, while keeping the TV itself at a volume that’s comfortable for the whole household.
- Tabletop: After living through a pandemic, we no longer take dining out with friends for granted. It can still be hard to tune into the conversation though as many bustling restaurants have high levels of background noise. That’s where a tabletop hearing accessory comes into play. It’s a small disc that you place on the table. The microphones inside tunes to the nearest person talking, seamlessly switching from one speaker to another as the conversation flows while processing and cleaning up the sound for you. Other people may be straining to hear but you certainly won’t be – you’re likely to hear the dinner conversation more clearly than anyone else at the table.
- Phones, tablets and laptops: Life is full of devices now. Whether you’re Facetiming your grandchildren or hopping into another Zoom meeting, you need to be able to hear what’s said. Many accessories connect wirelessly to your phone, tablet or laptop and stream the sound to directly to your hearing aid for a high-quality listening experience.
How A Better Ear can help
As a truly independent audiology clinic, we’re able to offer impartial advice on assisted listening devices and hearing aid accessories. We’re not on commission and don’t receive any kickbacks for selling you a particular device.
Rather, we listen to you. We’ll ask you when you can now hear well and when (and where) it’s still difficult. Then we’ll recommend the right devices to help you overcome poor acoustics, background noise or too great a distance from the sound source.
Make an appointment to see us.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.