Assistive Listening Devices for Watching Television
are several choices to assist people while watching television.
Closed captions are words displayed on the television screen
that describe the audio portion of the program. The viewer
can read everything that is being said during the programs
and commercials. All TVs manufactured after July 1993 which
are 13" or larger have a closed caption decoder in them. Simply turn on the captioning by using the remote control. For those who have an older TV, it is typically more economical
to purchase a new TV than it is to purchase an external closed
caption decoder. Closed caption decoders often have compatibility
problems and need either a VCR or satellite in order to work.
- Closed captioning is in most TVs so there is no additional
- It is easy to use because there are no headsets or battery
- One must "read" instead of listen to the show. Becoming comfortable with this may be difficult.
- It can be a challenge for those with vision or literacy
Small Area Infrared
This system plugs into the TV headset jack and sends a beam
of light to an individualized receiver (headset with earphones)
that the person wears. The receivers have volume controls
to allow the user to adjust as needed. In this system, there
is no cord running from the TV to the headset.
- Small area infrared is relatively easy to use.
- Systems are reasonably inexpensive.
- This system works only in "line of sight."
If the person turns his or her head, he or she may hear
- It can only be used inside for a limited range.
- The transmitter must be plugged into an electrical outlet.
- There may be compatibility problems with hearing aids. It is possible to purchase a neck loop for use with a t-coil,
but the person may have to take the hearing aid out if he
does not have a t-coil, as feedback may result.
- Most TVs will mute if you plug into the headset jack,
which means that no one else can hear the TV at the same
- There are limited headset designs. Many infrared systems
have headsets which hang down from the ears. It is not possible
to wear a hearing aid with this type of receiver. In addition,
many complain that it is uncomfortable to wear over long
periods of time.
- The receiver requires batteries which will need to be
replaced or recharged as often as every 5-8 hours of use
- This type of system is not very portable.