An assistive listening system is designed to improve listening ability for the hard of hearing (HOH). Beyond just increasing sound levels, the assistive listening device decreases noise to make speech more intelligible. The system consists of a transmitter, which broadcasts any audio that is heard over the speakers in the system, along with one or more receivers that are used by individual HOH audience members. The video below allows you to hear the tremendous difference that these systems make for the hard of hearing. Often viewed as an added convenience for HOH audience members, many venue owners and managers do not realize that these systems may be legally required for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Products & Systems
There are several types of assistive listening systems. Our preferred partner for assistive listening products, Listen Technologies, offers systems that use radio frequency (RF), infrared (IR), and induction loop (IL) technologies. A basic system consists of a transmitter, a transmission device (antenna/radiator/loop), and one or more receivers that are used by individual audience members. For larger systems, more than one transmitter may be required.
# Required Receivers
for Assistive Listening Systems
Wireless receivers are typically worn around the neck and are charged on a docking station or with a USB cable. Some receivers work with telecoil-equipped hearing aids and others use earphones. In some cases, a transmitter can connect directly with a t-coil hearing aid without a receiver. The number of receivers that are required is defined by the ADA based on the capacity of your venue; we can help you identify the required quantity.
Radio Frequency (RF)
Radio Frequency (RF) systems work by broadcasting an FM signal through your facility. This is the same technology used by radio stations, but at much lower power. An RF system covers a wide area and can extend into other nearby rooms or even outdoors.
Infrared (IR) systems transmit using the same technology that most hand-held remote controls use. Invisible light is emitted over the coverage area. Unlike RF systems, IR requires line-of-sight between a radiator and receiver. Line-of-sight can create a challenge in large or complex spaces, but it offers several advantages. Because they do not transmit outside of the room where they are installed, IR systems are more secure. In addition, IR systems are less prone to interference than RF systems and keep RF spectrum uncluttered for Wi-Fi, wireless microphones, and many other RF-based wireless systems you may use.
Induction Loop (or Hearing Loop)
This type of assistive hearing system uses a wire that is installed as a loop around the audience area in your venue. It uses wireless receivers like other systems, but can also transmit directly to audience members with a telecoil-compatible hearing aid and cochlear implants. Around 70% of hearing aids are t-coil equipped. Because of this capability, fewer wireless receivers are required.
Many hard of hearing audience members prefer an induction loop system because it allows them to be more discreet and it is easier to use. These systems are easiest to install during construction or renovation, but can be installed in finished rooms as well.
ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010)
Breaking the Sound Barrier In Your Church