Radio aids – optimising listening opportunities: Guide

Gill Weston, Pauline Cobbold, Cate Statham and Helen Maiden with contributions by James Mander, Gary Webster and Brian Copsey | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

What are radio aids?

A radio aid is a type of Assistive Listening Device (ALD).  There is a range of ALDs available but personal radio aids are recommended in educational settings.

Personal radio aids have the potential to greatly enhance deaf children’s listening experiences by making speech more audible in situations where distance, background noise and reverberation make listening difficult.  The radio aid works by making the sound/speech the CYP needs to hear, such as the teacher’s voice, clearer in relation to unwanted background noise and helps to overcome the problems of hearing speech at a distance.

A radio aid system consists of a transmitter, worn by a speaker, eg the teacher, and a receiver/s, worn by the CYP.

There are different types of receiver/s.

  • Body-worn receivers which are usually worn by the CYP in a harness or on a belt and connect to the hearing device via a direct input lead.
  • Ear-level receiver/s which attach directly via a direct input shoe to hearing aids and cochlear implant speech processor/s.
  • Integrated receivers which are built into the hearing aid direct input shoe or the hearing aid itself.
  • Neckloop receivers which require the T programme to be enabled on the CYPs hearing aids or speech processor/s.
  • Ear-level receivers, headphones or personal soundfield for CYP who don’t use a hearing aid.

The NDCS have produced a comprehensive booklet designed for parents on radio aids.  How radio aids can help: a guide for families.

There are some ALDs, which are strictly not classified as radio aids, that are being used for the same functions in schools, eg Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone.  It can have a receiver attached via euro socket and also be used as a transmitter.  (See a review by Colin Peake in BATOD Magazine May 2016 (p54), where he explains the pros and cons when being used as a radio aid.)