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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Assisted Listening Systems (ALS)

ALS’s can utilize FM, infrared, or inductive loop technologies.  All three technologies are considered good.  Each one has advantages and disadvantages. From the National Association of the Deaf:

FM Systems

FM systems are ALSs that use radio broadcast technology.  They are often used in educational settings and offer mobility and flexibility when used with portable body-worn transmitters.  Some newer FM systems utilize miniaturized receivers that fit onto a hearing aid via a “boot.” This smaller type of receiver is not available through a catalogue.  It must be dispensed by a hearing aid professional and is more expensive than traditional FM systems.  It also uses a high frequency making it incompatible with other FM systems.

Infrared Systems

Infrared systems are ALSs that utilize light-based technology.  They guarantee privacy because light does not pass through walls.  They are the appropriate choice for situations such as court proceedings that require confidentiality.  They are frequently installed in places of entertainment.  They are also frequently designed and marketed for use in television listening.

Inductive Loop Systems

Wide area loop systems utilize an electromagnetic field to deliver sound.  They offer convenience to groups of t-coil hearing aid users because those users do not require body worn receivers.  Loop systems can be used by non-hearing aid users through use of a headphone and inductive loop receiver.

Our View

We agree with XYZ who writes

While FM and IR do improve the Signal-to-noise ratio, hearing loops are preferred by those with hearing loss the world over. It is easy to understand why: users of hearing loops are already wearing the receiver for the loop signal in or on their ears and their telecoils are programmed for their individual hearing loss. That means that when they enter a looped facility – all they need to do is activate the telecoil program.

FM and IR systems require users to get up, locate the person in charge for the devices, ask for permission to use a device,  and after using it return the individual receiver – all the while hoping the device handed over to them is clean and in working order – the batteries are charged/in working order, the device comes equipped with a compatible neckloop capable of providing a strong enough magnetic signal as for those with more severe hearing loss or cochlear implants, headphones are not adequate and the headphone set /neckloop is not intermittent.



Last Updated: November 22, 2017 at 10:26 am