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Assistive Listening Systems

Background noises, distance from the instructor, and bad classroom acoustics may prevent a Deaf, hard of hearing, or DeafBlind student from effectively hearing the instructor and their peers. Some students can address this barrier by using an Assistive Listening System.
Eligible students may use the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment – Students with Disabilities (CSG-DSE) to pay for assistive technology such as an FM system. Alternatively, they may acquire the equipment on a loan basis. Both of these options are available through Assistive Technology BC (ATBC).
How Do They Work
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are technologies that reduce and/or eliminate the barriers of background noise, distance, and reverberation. They range from preinstalled systems to portable devices that are carried from class to class.
They allow the student to tune directly into the instructor’s voice when an instructor wears a lapel microphone. The microphone transmits the sound directly to the student’s hearing aid(s) or cochlear implant.
A drawback of this system can be that some students cannot hear the voices of other students in the classroom. This can be overcome by the instructor repeating questions posed by students and/or an omni-directional microphone placed in the center of a table during group discussions.
Instructor/Speaker Tips
The following considerations will increase a speaker or instructor’s effectiveness in using assistive listening systems. A conversation with the student regarding what works best is also recommended.
  • Do a microphone check to ensure it is working properly and that the student is hearing your voice.
  • Turn off the microphone during private conversations or when not addressing the class.
  • Remember that the student can only hear your voice. Repeat any questions posed by classmates unless the microphone is being passed around the classroom or an omni-directional microphone is being used.
  • Give the student the option of sitting in the front of the class if that is his/her preference.
  • Stay away from other electronic equipment such as podiums and AV equipment. These can cause  electrical interference.
  • Discuss with the student before class what he/she prefers to do when showing videos during class.