By Amy Roman, M.S., Speech Therapist.

Many people with ALS benefit greatly from voice amplifiers.  While an amplifier can’t make speech clearer it can make it louder which is essential for those with reduced breath support.  pALS who use amplifiers report a decrease in effort and fatigue from speaking, prolonged ability to use speech later in the day,  and find that communication partners struggle less to understand them.

There are three kinds of amplifiers/mic systems often used by pALS.

Portable Amplifier

The most common is a portable, small and light-weight amplifier that can be worn around the neck,  around the waist, or attached to a wheelchair for portability. 

Wearable mics work best with portable amplifiers for people with soft voices.  These have flexible boom mics that enable you to position the mic to within 1/2 an inch or 1.2 cm from your lips. Lapel or clip mics are designed for people with normal loudness and do not work adequately for pALS.


3 way high gain mic

3-Way High Gain MIC

Brand Recommendation:  My favorite amplifier and mic combination is the Luminaud Spokeman Amplifier (temporarily unavailable) coupled with the 3 Way High Gain Mic.  At our lending library we are experimenting with other brands, such as the Zoweetek Mini Amplifier with Wired Headset Mic, since the Spokeman is not shipping currently.

Spokeman Amplifier

The Luminaud Spokeman Amplifier

Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) Mask Amplifiers

Speax Kit

New to the market is an amplifier designed to be used by people who wear a full face mask.  If the mask is interfering with your ability to be heard and understood this may be a game changer for you.  The SPEAX Amplifier Kit includes a  sensor patch that attaches to the mask,  double sided tape so sensors can be removed, filters to amplify the voice while reducing the ventilator sounds, and an amplifier.  The loudness and clarity of your amplified voice may vary due to the different types of NIV masks.

Transdermal Throat Mic

Another solution for people using NIV is a transdermal mic.  This is a mic that is placed on the neck and absorbs vibrations directly from the wearer’s throat through one or two sensors.   A number of companies produce these mics and they typically can be plugged into any voice amplifier.