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Devices to make conversations clearer

Devices to make conversations clearer

There are assistive devices that can help you hear conversations, such as hearing loops and assistive listening devices

Devices you can use with hearing aids

Hearing loops

A hearing loop can help you pick up speech sounds more clearly, especially if you are further away. It focuses your hearing aid to pick up sound from the loop system microphone, rather than all noises in the area. This helps to cut out background noise. 

To use a hearing loop, you need to have your hearing aid switched on to the hearing loop setting. Your audiologist may need to do this for you. Find out more about how to use your hearing aids.

Hearing loops are available: 

FM systems

An FM system uses radio waves to transmit sounds from a transmitter to several people at the same time. It’s normally used in schools, group tours, conferences and lectures.

Several manufacturers make FM systems, but they can be used with any hearing aid. You need to use a compatible receiver that is usually attached to the bottom of your hearing aids. Your audiologist may need to link your hearing aids to it. They can also advise which receiver is required.

Infrared technology

Infrared technology is similar to an FM system. It’s sometimes used in theatres or lecture halls. It transmits sound to several people at the same time. You’ll need:

  • A special receiver to pick up the sound in your hearing aids. This is normally available at a customer service desk or by asking a member of staff. 
  • A device to connect the receiver to your hearing aids, such as a neck loop or ear hook.

Read more about hearing loops, FM systems and infrared technology

Assistive listening devices

These are small, portable devices that pick up speech and make it louder. It can be useful if you are in a noisy place or find it hard to hear someone at a distance. Most listening devices also have tone settings that can help make ‘S’, ‘T’ and ‘F’ speech sounds clearer.

Prices for these assistive listening devices are between £80 to £600 for more advanced models that can pick up sound over a greater distance.

If you use hearing aids, you can connect listeners directly to them using other devices. They include:

  • A neck loop, a cable that you wear around your neck.
  • Ear hooks, a small device attached to a cable that hooks over the ear next to the hearing aid. 
  • Bluetooth streamers. If the device has Bluetooth, it can channel the audio straight into your hearing aids. 

You need to have your hearing aid switched on to the hearing loop setting for this to work. Your audiologist may need to do this for you.

Prices for these assistive devices range from £15 to £50 for more advanced types.

Speech to text apps

Speech to text software allows you to read a transcription of everything that is said in a conversation. It can be helpful for group meetings or work situations. It’s now widely available in apps for smartphones and tablets.

There are free and paid apps available for Apple, Android and other smartphone models. Paid apps can cost up to £300. You can buy and download these from your smartphone app store.

Devices to help you use a mobile, landline or smartphone

If you are deaf or have hearing loss, there are devices and services to help you make the most of your mobile, landline or smartphone. Read more about devices to help you use a phone.

How to get assistive devices

Get assistive devices from social services

You may be able to get assistive devices from your local social services. You are entitled to an assessment – contact your local social services to find out more.

Buy assistive devices

You can buy assistive devices from a range of suppliers online. One of these is Connevans, who specialise in equipment for deaf people and those with hearing loss and tinnitus.

We work in partnership with Connevans to make sure you can buy all the assistive devices you need.

If you buy from the Connevans online shop, Connevans donates 10% of the purchase price to RNID, to support our vital work.

Visit the Connevans online shop

Get help paying for assistive devices

If you work

You may be able to get an Access to Work grant. This could help cover the cost of any assistive devices or communication support you need to do your job.

Find out about Access to Work grants

If you’re in education

If you’re a student aged 16 or over, you may get help to cover the cost of any assistive devices or communication support that you need for your studies.

Find out more about help in education

Contact us

If you are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus and need free confidential and impartial information and support, contact RNID.

We’re open 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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Page last updated: 28 November 2022

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