Northside Health Library

Devices for hearing loss


If you are living with hearing loss, you likely know that it takes extra effort and energy for you and others to communicate.

Many different devices can improve your ability to communicate, helping minimize stress and fatigue for you and those around you. These devices can help you avoid becoming socially isolated and less independent, as well as keep you safe wherever you are.

Alerting Devices

Alerting devices help make you aware of sounds you may otherwise hear, such as the doorbell or a ringing phone. They can also alert you to something that is happening in the home, school, and workplace, such as a fire, someone entering your home, or a baby waking up.

These devices send you a signal that you can recognize. The signal may be a flashing light, a horn, or something that vibrates.

Assistive Listening Devices

The less sound mixes with other sounds and bounces off walls before getting to your ear, the easier it may be to understand. Assistive listening devices bring certain sounds directly to your ears. As a result, your hearing may be better during a one-on-one conversation and in classrooms or theaters.

These devices may work by placing a remote microphone next to the talker, whether in a smaller room or on the stage. Other devices can bring the sound from your TV, radio, or music player directly to your inner ear.

Some of these devices can connect directly to your hearing aid. Many now work through a wireless link.

Television closed-captioning shows the words along the bottom of the television screen.

Devices for the Telephone

Many different devices can help you listen and talk on the telephone. Devices called amplifiers make the sound louder. Phones are available with these amplifiers built-in. You can attach others to the phone. You can also attach amplifiers you carry with you to any phone.

Some amplifiers are held next to the ear. Many hearing aids work with these devices but may have special settings. Other devices make it easier to use your hearing aid with a digital phone line. This helps prevent some distortion.

Telecommunication relay services (TRS) allows people with severe hearing loss to place calls to standard telephones. Text telephones, called TTYs or TTDs, allow the typing of messages through a phone line rather than using voice. If the person on the other end can hear, the typed message is relayed as a voice message.


Dugan MB. Living with Hearing Loss. Galludet University Press , Washington DC. March 2003.

Review Date: 7/7/2011
Reviewed By: Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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