ALS Augmentative Communication Program | 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.


Stu discusses fatigue related to the effort to project in meetings and the value of  voice amplification

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.

Eugene considers voice amplification

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. 


Kyle demonstrates TRANSDERMAL microphone use when engaging full face BiPAP mask 

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