Voice Amplification

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Contact the ALS Augmentative Communication Program

  • 781-216-2209

Click here to watch videos of people with ALS talk about the benefits and their impressions of voice amplification.

Why use a voice amplifier?

Speaking can be fatiguing. Even if your speech is considered articulate and clear, you use a great deal of energy to speak as you are using the muscles of respiration, phonation, resonation and articulation all at the same time. By amplifying your voice when you speak, you can use less energy to talk. For many people, this means that fatigue related to speaking occurs much later in the day than it does without the amplifier.  


Amplification and clarity of speech:  Many people with ALS tell us that they’ve been counseled to not use an amplifier because their speech is less clear due to dysarthria. We don’t agree. We believe that any effort you can make to reduce the energy you use to speak and minimize fatigue should be used. In fact, many times even if your speech is less clear, your family and other familiar communication partners can understand much of what you speak. It is the volume of your speech that can make it more challenging.

When should I use the amplifier?   Because our goal is to minimize fatigue and maximize function, a voice amplifier would ideally be used throughout the day in many environments. At the very least, you should use a voice amplifier when you will be speaking in crowds (family gatherings, social events), when you will are competing with background noise (traffic noise, air conditioner, office noise, in the car),when you are speaking in large open spaces (in a conference room, restaurants, shopping plaza) or when you will be speaking for extended periods of time.

How do I decide which amplifier and headset to use?   While we have found a small number of amplifiers being satisfactory, after trial we most often recommend the Luminaud Spokeman voice amplifier. There is wide individual preference, however, for type of headset (over the head, behind the head, over the ear, light weight, flesh colored, around the neck, etc.). We have many in our ALS program to try. It is important that you work with a speech-language pathologist who, based on your speech skills and other considerations, will try multiple headsets so you can decide which works best for you.       

Testimonials from our patients:

“We are so glad she uses the amplifier because all of us have to strain so much to hear and understand her without it.  Even though the clarity of her speech is really impacted, we can figure out what she is saying most of the time…if we can hear her.   Her voice is very soft and we don’t want to miss anything she says” - husband of L.G, a woman with ALS.

“I found that I can talk fine in the morning and early afternoon but by mid-afternoon I start thinking ‘is this worth saying’ because I start to feel fatigued. When I use the voice amplifier all day long, I don’t get so fatigued and I can continue to talk and be part of conversations right in to the evening”

“I place the amplifier in the middle of the table during card games.  With five of us playing cards it can get pretty noisy but with the amplifier and despite my weak voice, I am still the biggest mouth at the table!”    ML, age 64

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337

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