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FM or Infrared System


A sound amplification system, like FM or IR, is a wireless system that transmits sound from the sound source to the receiver (see below chart) in order to improve listening in noisy environments. The sound source is typically a microphone worn by a parent or teacher.  FM or IR systems can be used with hearing aids or cochlear implants, on the ear (without a hearing aid or cochlear implant), or as a speaker system. Typically these systems are used by children with Auditory Processing Disorder or hearing difficulties and have shown benefits with speech-perception, academic performance, on-task behaviour, and emotional and psychological health (Johnston, John, Kreisman, Hall, & Crandell, 2009). Studies have shown that typical children, children with ADHD and/or ASD (Schafer et al., 2013), or children with Learning Disabilities (Purdy, Smart, Baily, & Sharma, 2009) may also benefit from classroom sound amplification systems. According to research, desktop and personal FM systems provided greater benefit to students than hearing aids alone or soundfield systems (Anderson & Goldstein, 2004).

Research Rating: Due to the experimental nature of the information cited in this description this information is to be trusted as valid and reliable.


  • Much research has shown that individuals with auditory processing disorder or hearing problems benefit in speech-perception, academic performance, on-task behaviour, and emotional and psychological health

  • Children with a variety of exceptionalities may benefit

  • With desktop systems, children who are typical may benefit as well as children with auditory processing difficulties


  • These systems can be costly

  • Children may complain that the systems are uncomfortable, though newer systems are generally more functional and comfortable

To Consider

  • Determining whether or not an FM system is appropriate is individualistic; the needs and concerns of the specific child need to be considered (Schafer et al., 2013)

  • Contact an audiologist to determine which system and what components are the most appropriate

Special Consideration: Workflow

OS Compatibility
Internet Reliance
Optimized Use

Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed. 

$ - Under $5

$$ - Between $6 and $50

$$$ - Between $51 and $250

$$$$ - Over $250



Anderson, K. L., & Goldstein, H. (2004). Speech benefits of FM and infrared devices to children with hearing aids in a typical classroom. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 35, 169-184.


Johnston, K. N., John, A. B., Kreisman, N. V., Hall, J. W., & Crandell, C. C. (2009). Multiple benefits of personal FM system use by children with auditory processing disorder (APD). International Journal of Audiology, 48, 371-383.


Purdy, S. C., Smart, J. L., Baily, M. & Sharma, M. (2009). Do children with reading delay benefit from the use of personal FM systems in the classroom?. International Journal of Audiology, 48, 843–852.

Schafer, E. C., Mathews, L., Mehta, S., Hill, M., Munoz, A., Bishop, R., & Moloney, M. (2013). Personal FM systems for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and/or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): An initial investigation. Journal of Communication Disorders, 46, 30-52.

Written by Bronwyn Lamond, Last Revision May 2018

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