Hearing Assistive Technology

Hearing assistive technology, or HATS, helps you hear at home, school, and work. Audiologists can help find the device for you.

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See also: Hearing Assistive Technology for Children

About HATS

HATS are devices that can help you hear in loud or busy places. Some HATS let you see or read messages. You can use HATS with or without hearing aids or cochlear implants.

There are times when it is hard for any of us to hear. If you have hearing loss, it can be even harder. Some examples of when it might be hard to hear include:

  • When the sound comes from a distance. Sound fades as it travels. This is why it is harder to hear someone when they are across the room.
  • When there is a lot of noise in the room. Most rooms have noises that compete with what we want to hear. There might be air blowing or other people talking. The TV or radio might be on. Cars and trucks might drive by outside. This all makes it harder to hear.
  • When the sound bounces around the room. It is harder to hear in a room with poor sound quality, or acoustics. Sounds bounce off of hard surfaces, like bare walls, tables, and floors. This causes echoes, called reverberation. It is easier to hear in rooms with carpets and couches.

Distance, other noise, and echoes can happen at the same time. This makes it even harder to hear. HATS can help.

FM Systems

FM stands for frequency modulation. An FM system is like a tiny radio station with its own frequency. An FM system has two parts. One part is a microphone that the speaker wears. The microphone sends a signal to a receiver. You wear the receiver on your ears or in your hearing aids. This lets the speaker's voice go directly to you, making it easier to hear.

You can use an FM system almost anywhere. They can be in classrooms, restaurants, meetings, and nursing homes. You can use them in theaters, museums, and other large areas. In larger places, there is a built-in microphone in the sound system. You get an FM receiver that you connect to your hearing aid. You can also get a headset to wear.

Infrared Systems

Infrared systems use light waves to send sounds across a room. The system changes sounds into light and sends them to a receiver. The receiver turns the light waves back into sound. The receiver can be in your hearing aid or worn alone.

Infrared systems are often used at home with your TV. They are also used in larger places, like theaters. These systems let you hear the TV without turning the volume up too high. Others can watch the TV at a volume that is comfortable for them.

Induction Loop Systems

Induction loop systems work with hearing aids. The loop wire goes under the carpet or in the ceiling. The wire connects to a microphone. An electrical current moves through the wire when someone talks into the microphone. This creates an electromagnetic field in the room. You switch your hearing aid to the "T" or telephone setting. Your hearing aid picks up the signal so you can hear the speaker.

Induction loop systems are good for large group areas. You can buy them for your own use at home.

One-to-One Communicators

There are times when you want to hear just one person. This can be in a restaurant, in a hospital room, or when riding in the car. Maybe you want to hear when someone asks a question during a meeting. A one-to-one communicator can help. The other person speaks into a microphone. The sound goes into your hearing aid or a headset. This lets you talk to someone without shouting.

Other HATS Solutions

There are many other types of HATS, such as:

  • Devices that make phones louder
  • Louder answering machines
  • Loud doorbells
  • Computers
  • Wake-up alarms. These can be a loud bell or a vibrating clock.

There are devices that let you see or feel when something happens. For example, when the doorbell rings, you may see a flashing light. Or, your alarm clock may vibrate to wake you. You can use a visual system with your hearing aid or alone.

There are other types of visual systems, including:

  • Text telephones. These type the message so you can read it.
  • Speech recognition programs. These change speech into text that you can read.
  • Closed-captioned TV. The words said on TV show at the bottom of the screen. All TVs with screens at least 13 inches wide must have built-in captioning.
  • Note taking. You can focus on hearing while someone else takes notes for you. Children with hearing loss and those who have trouble writing can use this in school.

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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