Radio aids are systems that wirelessly send the sound from a microphone transmitter to a receiver, worn by the person with hearing loss. The receiver will then send the sound to the user’s hearing aids or cochlear implant processors. For example, in school the teacher or speaker would wear the transmitter, and the deaf pupil or listener the receiver. To use a radio aid you will always need a transmitter and a receiver or receivers. Radio aids can also be used at home, work, or for social activities.
In the four sections below you can find more information on radio aids.
Radio aids are available to loan for free from our Technology Test Drive service for three months. Click on the images below to find out more about these products and request to borrow them.
Radio aids are widely used in schools, colleges and universities to help deaf children and young people hear their teachers and other students better. They can also be helpful when used at home, when out and about, in the workplace or in any noisy place.
Hearing aids and other hearing devices allow most wearers to hear speech in quiet listening situations. However, most speech is heard in noisier listening situations and there are times when it might be difficult to hear and listen, such as when:
- there is unwanted background noise
- sounds are echoing around the room (reverberation)
- there is a distance between you and the person who is speaking
Radio aids can help overcome these problems by making the sounds you need to hear, such as a teacher’s voice, clearer in relation to unwanted background noises.
A radio aid system consists of a transmitter, worn by a teacher for example, and a receiver (or receivers) worn by the deaf person. There are five different types of receiver available:
- Small ear-level receivers that attach to hearing devices using a hearing aid direct input shoe
- Integrated receivers which are built into the hearing aid direct input shoe
- Neckloop receivers which require the T programme to be set on the hearing device
- Body-worn receivers which are usually worn on the chest or waist
- Ear-level receivers for deaf people who don’t use a hearing aid
What families say
"Dylan has had a radio aid for two years now. He uses it at school with receivers attached to the bottom of his aids and it allows him to hear his teacher much louder than the background noise in the classroom. Since he got them his focus in lessons has improved enormously – previously he would be distracted very easily. When he is doing group work in class his teacher takes the transmitter and places it in the middle of the table. This helps Dylan to hear the other children and take part in group activities."
David, father of Dylan (8)
Find out how these mums use their radio aids.
- People who use hearing aids, cochlear implants or bone-anchored hearing aids
Users find the radio aid makes it easier for them to concentrate on the sounds they want to hear.
- People who don’t use hearing devices
There are radio aid receivers which work without a hearing aid or implant and are suitable for someone who has a mild or moderate hearing loss. These receivers can help if you have difficulty concentrating or picking out different sounds, but you don’t use hearing aids.
These receivers may also benefit someone with a temporary deafness or someone with a unilateral hearing loss (deafness in one ear). These people are often not provided with hearing aids, but in noisy conditions (for example a classroom or restaurant) these radio aids could help them hear others better and remain included in classes and conversations.
- People with concentration difficulties
If you have difficulty concentrating, particularly in noisy settings, you might find that a radio aid helps you concentrate on what a teacher or friend is saying. This includes people with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
If you are interested in purchasing a radio aid, here are the main UK suppliers:
- Action on Hearing Loss (01733 361199)
- Connevans Ltd (01737 247571)
- Gordon Morris (01458 272121)
- Oticon Ltd (01737 780430
- PC Werth Ltd (020 8772 2700)