An FM System or Frequency Modulated system is a device used to make difficult listening situations easier. Hearing impaired individuals, adults and children, have problems hearing in noisy environment and when a speaker is at some distance, even with the use of hearing aids. When we think about our daily lives or the lives our children, we are all in varying listening situations. From driving in a car, work environments, school or preschool, playgrounds, restaurants, there is background noises, and distant and quiet speech all around us. Imagine your child in the backseat of a car, trying to overcome traffic and road noise to hear you speaking to him/her. Or your child in a gymnasium with all the noises, reverberations, and echoes of other children playing and screaming, trying to hear the teacher or coach give directions. These are everyday examples of the obstacles our children face with or without hearing loss. These obstacles are exacerbated for children with even the most mild hearing loss. An FM system is used to overcome these obstacles, in school and at home.
An FM system consists of 2 parts:
1. The Transmitter and Microphone. The transmitter and microphone are worn by the teacher or parent. This portion of the FM System picks up the voice from the microphone and transmits it to the childs ears. There are two different types of microphones available. The first is the lapel microphone which is clipped to the shirt, approximately 6 inches from the mouth. The second type is the boom microphone which is worn approximately 3 inches from the mouth. The transmitter also comes with audio cable to enable connection to audio devices such as a television, CD player, MP3 player, or computer.
2. The Receiver. The receivers are attached to the hearing aids and receive the sound from the transmitter and deliver it to the hearing aids. The receivers are small, lightweight and easy to use. Receivers are also available for children or adults who do not wear hearing aids such as the Phonak Edulink.
Listening with an FM System is like listening to someone talk from 3 – 6 inches away regardless of the distance between the listener and speaker. The receiver must be within 50 feet of the transmitter in order to have a good signal.
In the past, FM systems were used primarily in schools however audiologists are now recommending that they also be used at home. The use of an FM system at home will give a child consistent exposure to speech and language . Research has shown that children learn develop better speech and language from consistent exposure to conversations. This constant exposure to speech helps the child learn new words and grows their understanding on the use of language.
Below are links for the online brochures for the Phonak FM Systems and the Oticon FM System.