Hidden Challenges for Assistive Listening Technology in Large Venues June 3, 2024 at 4:15 pm

Assistive listening systems (ALS) enhance speech intelligibility by sending a wireless audio signal from a venue’s sound system directly to a receiving device worn by a listener in the audience. The audio signal that is transmitted via a venue’s ALS travels at the speed of light, while the acoustic signal produced by the venue’s loudspeaker system travels at the much slower speed of sound. The result of this is that a listener seated at >35 ft from the stage perceives an echo, which reduces intelligibility and increases listening effort. This means that assistive listening systems may have the opposite of the intended effect for listeners with hearing disabilities in large auditoriums.

Bluetooth Auracast promises that listeners will be able to use their own smartphones, earphones, or hearing aids to connect directly to an ALS audio stream. However, when multiple ALS audio streams are available, the user would have to operate a remote control or smartphone to select the correct stream. This is less accessible than connecting to a hearing loop system, which simply requires the listener to push a button on their receiving device.

This presentation addresses how to mitigate both of these issues.

Key Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this session, participants will be able to:
1. examine whether any given large venue provides an adequate assistive listening solution
2. analyze whether alignment delay poses a challenge in any given venue
3. propose an adequate assistive listening solution for any given large venue


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