Use and maintenance of assistive listening devices in the Christchurch community.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
Hearing loss is a disability that affects thousands of people in the world. It is estimated that there is 400,000 people with hearing difficulties in New Zealand (New Zealand Audiological Society, 2007). People with hearing loss have the right to access to information and communication (United Nations Enable, 2003). Without access to information and communication, the hearing impaired may encounter problems with emotional and social functioning, and consequently suffer with decreased quality of life. Clinical experience and investigations have revealed success with assistive listening devices (ALDs) where use of hearing aids has been unsuccessful. ALDs are devices that improve the communication function for the hearing impaired. ALDs can be used with or without hearing aids to overcome the negative effects of poor room acoustics. Currently, in the literature, little is known about the use and maintenance of ALDs in community organizations. This study investigates the use and maintenance of ALDs in the Christchurch community of New Zealand. A list of community organizations that provide ALDs to the public of Christchurch was also made available to individuals who have hearing impairment. The study found there is a lack of ALDs within the Christchurch community. Also that current ALD technology within the Christchurch community is not necessarily compatible with current hearing aid technology and that most organizations rely too heavily on PA systems. PA systems do not necessarily meet the needs of the hearing impaired and an ALD specifically targeting their hearing loss would improve their speech perception. Community organizations are not advertising enough that they offer ALDs which adds to the lack of awareness in Christchurch. Results found that most ALDs in the Christchurch community are in working order, however, there is a need for organizations to be educated about their use and maintenance. Audiologists and other health professionals have a key role in providing appropriate recommendations in the use and benefits that ALDs have on speech perception. These will directly improve the listening situations that the hearing impaired have throughout their communities, thus improving their quality of life.