Considerations for Children

It is well documented that children's language development, speech development, social skills, and academic achievement depend on the ability to hear. Assistive listening systems maximize children's hearing and learning capabilities. FM systems, because of their flexibility, mobility, and sturdiness, are among the most common ALDs used with children.

FM systems have wide application in educational settings because of the long-recognized benefit that this technology provides in noisy and reverberant child care, preschool, and classroom environments. When you think of where and how your child spends the day, you quickly realize how ALDs provide benefit in noisy play areas or in reverberent, noisy classrooms.

Studies have shown that the best results are achieved when an FM system is included early in the amplification fitting process. In fact, audiologists routinely recommend that a child's hearing device be equipped with "T" (telecoil/telephone) switches, "M"/"T" (microphone/telecoil) combination switches, and Direct Audio Input (DAI) capability that will allow connection with assistive listening systems.

What FM systems do for children in schools

  • They allow the child to hear the teacher's voice at an appropriate and constant intensity level regardless of the distance between the child and the teacher.
  • They allow the teacher's voice to be more prominently heard than background noise (toys, papers, chairs scraping, whispering, pencils being sharpened, feet shuffling) even when the background noise is closer to the child than the teacher's voice.
  • They allow for self-monitoring of the child's own voice through the audio processor's microphone.
  • They allow for the audio processor's microphone to be turned off so that the child can concentrate only on the teacher.

Other assistive listening systems used in schools

While personal FM systems are most commonly used by children with hearing loss, there are amplification systems – called sound field systems – that assist listening for all children in the class. Using FM technology, the teacher speaks into a microphone transmitter and his/her voice is projected through speakers situated around the classroom. Sound field systems greatly assist in overcoming the problems of distance, background noise, and poor room acoustics that affect listening for all children – with or without hearing loss.

Sound field systems have also been found to benefit children with other auditory and learning problems. In addition to helping students with hearing loss, sound field systems have been effective for those with central auditory processing disorders, learning disabilities, developmental delays, attention deficits, language delays, articulation disorders, and those learning English as a second language.

Who is qualified to determine if my child needs an ALD?

A certified audiologist can assist in the selection, evaluation, fitting and dispensing of an FM system. School districts are required to employ audiologists to manage these issues. Their expertise includes the evaluation, selection, procurement, and monitoring of ALDs used in school. Furthermore, audiologists guide and instruct teachers and students in making the best use of ALDs.
For more information on hearing, hearing technology, and intervention, please visit the website of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at
* Content on pp 14-17 has been adapted with permission from the Audiology Information Series: Assistive technology. Available from the Web site of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:

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