Like wheelchair ramps for people with hearing difficulty.

Assistive Listening Systems are like wheelchair ramps for people with hearing difficulty. They provide users with a silent, wireless connection to a facility’s sound system either through earphones or the telecoils in hearing aids and cochlear or bone implant processors.

The Committee for Communication Access in America conducted a survey in the U.S. to investigate why millions of people with hearing loss were not fully using and taking advantage of the assistive device technologies.

The intent of the survey was to acquire reliable information on the preferences and use habits of people when utilising assistive communication systems. This information would enable providers of services to people with hearing loss to inform clients of the many benefits of the various assistive technologies and which systems are preferred by their contemporaries.

Survey highlights include:

  • Experience, degree of hearing loss, and personally owned hearing devices all played a major role in the decision to use available assistive communication systems.
  • Depending on the type of systems available, 37% to 69% of people with a severe to profound hearing loss reported always using assistive communication systems when available.
  • Overall, only 52% of respondents were aware of their devices having telecoils.
  • 83% reported having Bluetooth capability with their devices and it was most often used for talking on the telephone.
  • 26% reported that they are always looking for or requesting an assistive communication system when they attend an event in a gathering place where they feel hearing could be problematic; unfortunately they report that they “always” or “usually” find it only about 15% of the time with 18% reporting they “never” find it.

The survey reinforced the fact that hearing loops are the preferred assistive communication system for the hard of hearing. Not surprising was that over half of respondents learned about telecoils elsewhere than from their hearing care provider.

The detailed report, including graphs and a wealth of other information gathered during the survey, can be accessed in a PDF on the CCAA website.