Public Assistive Listening Systems
Learn to hear better in large and noisy environments
Having a telecoil in my hearing aid, and being able to easily connect to a hearing loop opens a world of possibilities. I can enjoy theater at the Seattle Rep and events at Seattle Town Hall; I can participate in meetings at the Seattle City Council Chambers, travel more easily through Sea-Tac Airport, and so much more.Cheri Perazzoli
Founder, Let’s Loop Seattle
HLAA Member 37 years
What are public Assistive Listening Systems?
Just like wheelchair ramps help people with mobility issues, assistive listening systems (ALS) help people with hearing issues. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all government and public venues to provide hearing-aid compatible ALS where there is amplified sound. The ADA also requires venues to provide ALS system receivers if needed.
You can find ALS in theaters, places of worship, retail and information counters, transportation hubs, etc. These systems send audio from the sound source directly to your hearing devices. ALS reduce the impact of distance and poor acoustics and can minimize background noise.
Types of Assistive Listening Systems
ADA-compliant ALS include hearing loop, FM and Infrared (IR) systems. To take full advantage of these systems, you must have a telecoil in your hearing device and you must learn how to use it. Learn more below.
Hearing Loop Systems
It is no exaggeration to say that hearing loops change lives. These simple, superstar systems help keep you engaged by providing easy communication access. Hearing loops transmit sound directly to telecoil-enabled devices.
How to connect to hearing loop systems:
- With a telecoil in your hearing aid or cochlear implant, simply turn your hearing device to T or telecoil mode.
- If you do not have a telecoil-enabled device, use portable receivers and headphones or ear buds.
- If you do not have a hearing device, you can also use the receiver and headphones to hear better.
Hearing loops are the only ALS that can easily be used in different settings. You can find loops everywhere from large spaces to counter loops to personal hearing loops for small meetings. There are even hearing loops in taxis, and loops you can use at home with your television.
FM, or Radio Frequency assistive listening systems, transmit a wireless, low power FM radio frequency from a sound system to FM receivers. Everyone using the system needs a receiver and either a headphone or a neck loop.
How to connect to FM Systems
- With a telecoil in your hearing device, you can use the system receiver and a neckloop.
- If your personal hearing device does not have a telecoil, you need the receiver plus headphones. Be aware this can cause feedback.
- If you are hard of hearing, but do not have a hearing device, you can use the receiver and headphones to hear better.
Infrared Systems (IR)
Infrared Systems (IR) work like TV remote controls. A transmitter sends speech or music from a sound system to an IR receiver using invisible infrared light waves. Because IR signals are sent and received in a straight line, it’s best to sit as centrally as possible; in balconies or other areas with poor sight lines, you may experience interference or receive no sound signal at all. Venues with IR systems require everyone to borrow an accessory receiver.
How to connect to IR Systems:
- With a telecoil in your personal hearing device, you can use the receiver and a neckloop.
- If your personal hearing device does not have a telecoil, you need the receiver plus headphones, which can cause feedback.
- If you struggle hear, but do not have any personal hearing devices, you can use the receiver and headphones to hear better.
What is a neckloop?
A neckloop is a personal listening accessory that connects to FM and IR ASL. The neckloop is worn like a necklace and sends the audio signal into your hearing aid or cochlear implant. Neckloops are more effective, comfortable, and discreet then headphones.
Why is having a telecoil important?
Having telecoils in your personal hearing devices is the easiest and most discreet way to connect to assistive listening systems. Simply switch your device to telecoil mode and the sound you receive automatically adjusts to your specific hearing needs. You can also control the volume. Telecoils are standard in most cochlear implants, and are optional in many hearing aids and bone conduction devices. Ask your hearing health care provider about telecoil technology AND ask for instructions on how to use your t-coil program.
Hearing Loops In Washington State
There are hundreds of hearing loops throughout our state — discover where they can be found
Asking for Hearing Help
Venues often have to be asked to provide assistive listening systems — we can help you make that ask
The Preferred ALS
Hearing loops are internationally recognized as the preferred assistive listening system by people with hearing aids and cochlear implants