Products and Devices to Improve Hearing
Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) or assistive listening systems include a large variety of devices designed to help you hear sounds in everyday activities. They may be used by both normal hearing and hearing impaired people to improve listening in these settings.
ALDs can be used to overcome any negative effects of distance, poor room acoustics, and background noise. To achieve this purpose, many ALDs consist of a microphone near the source of the sound and a receiver near the listener. The listener can usually adjust the volume of the receiver as needed. Careful microphone placement allows the level of the speaker's voice to stay constant regardless of the distance between the speaker and the audience. The speaker's voice is also heard clearly over room noises such as chairs moving, fan motors running, and people talking.
Unlike hearing aids, ALDs do not require medical clearance or a waiver before purchase. ALDs can be used with or without hearing aids.
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A cochlear implant is an implanted electronic device that can produce useful hearing sensation by electrically stimulating nerves inside the inner ear.
Personal Sound Amplification Products
Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs), or sound amplifiers, increase environmental sounds for non-hearing impaired consumers. Examples of situations when these products would be used include hunting (listening for prey), bird watching, listening to a lecture with a distant speaker, and listening to soft sounds that would be difficult for normal hearing individuals to hear (e.g., distant conversations, performances). PSAPs are not intended to amplify speech or environmental sound for individuals with impaired hearing or to compensate for hearing impairment.
For more information about PSAPs, please see Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff: Regulatory Requirements for Hearing Aid Devices and Personal Sound Amplification Products. (opens in new window)
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Excerpted from U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Click here to read the full article. Information from October 20, 2009 posting.