The Movie-Lover's Guide to Theater Hearing Aid Devices

Although hearing loss can put a damper on certain aspects of your life, going to the movies doesn’t have to be one of them. Hearing Assistive Technology is readily available and can help you enjoy going to the movies again. Here’s how:

What Are Theater Hearing Aid Devices?

Depending on the degree of your hearing loss, assistive listening systems (ALS) are available. When requesting an ALS, most theaters ask that you leave some form of identification while you borrow the device. ALSs come in three different systems, including:

  • Induction Loop: Electromagnetic signal
  • Infrared Light: Operates as a beam of invisible light
  • Radio Frequency: Works through an FM radio signal


In each of these listening systems, the signal comes through a receiver in the form of either an Assisted Listening Device (ALD) or a telecoil (t-coil) located in your hearing aid or cochlear implant. A theater's ALD gets their sound directly from the theater's sound source, which means there’s no interference coming from your ALD.

What is the Difference Between the Three ALDs? Which One Should I Use?

If you have a hearing aid, then you’ll want to ask for an induction loop ALD. If you have a t-coil in your hearing aid or cochlear implant, you will be able to receive the theater's sound directly into your device.

How to Use ALDs in a Movie Theater

If you are going to a theater that uses an infrared or radio frequency system, you can use an ear bud headset if you do not want to keep your hearing aid on during the movie. Depending on your specific theater, headsets may also available. These plug into the receiver, but do not work for people who wear behind-the-ear hearing aids or who have more than a mild case of hearing loss.

If you have a t-coil in your hearing device, you can use an induction (neck) loop, which is plugged into a jack on the radio frequency or infrared receiver. These loops allow you to regulate the volume without the need for a headset. 

Just because you suffer from hearing loss doesn’t mean you have to stay at home. Next time you go to the movies or any type of active social event, check to see if ALDs are available.

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