I have hearing loss, but haven’t reached the point of using a hearing aid. That probably will come soon. My dad has had a number of hearing aids and has had a cochlear implant. He has gotten very active in promoting awareness of hearing loss as a disability. He has organized talks, events and events to educate the public about the issues facing someone with hearing loss. One solution he talks about is the induction loop system.
Induction Loop Systems for Those With Hearing Loss
Have you heard of the Induction Loop System in public places? What is it and how does it work?
It's Not the Volume
Both my dad and I have become reluctant to go to public places because it’s harder for us to hear when there is a lot of background noise. I have tinnitus as well. That is a phantom noise, in my case, a hissing sound, that has gotten louder with age. That, coupled with ambient noise, renders me almost totally deaf at times.
Some public gathering places, such as churches, halls, and auditoriums have attempted to help people with hearing disabilities by installing headphones and other devices for the hard of hearing. Besides the fact they these devices make it obvious that someone has a disability, they are unhygienic and don’t always help. The issue, most of the time, is not the volume, but the clarity.
What is it?
My dad has been promoting the use of the induction loop
system for public places. It’s a wire that is installed around the perimeter of the room or area and connects to the loudspeaker or audio device.The wire sends a signal to people with hearing aids equipped with a telecoil device. Many hearing aids and cochlear implants already have the telecoil capability. Telecoils allow the hearing aid to double as a customized loudspeaker. The telecoil is adjusted for each wearer. I would have to have a hearing aid or other device to benefit from this system but my dad has already experienced it. He said it sounds like the speaker is sitting next to you and speaking right in your ear. The background noises are blocked and the speaker’s voice comes through clearly.
The loops also work in situations where other devices would be impractical. They have had positive results in places like drive up windows, ticket offices, teller windows and airports and train stations. One of my dad’s main complaints is not being able to hear loudspeaker announcements at airports. The video below demonstrates the difference between hearing without the loop and with it. The first time I watched it, I couldn’t hear the woman’s voice at all in the first segment.
Easy to Use
They can be used in private homes too. Here’s a short video of a young girl hearing the looped TV for the first time.
Click Hearing Loop
Since the loop is basically a wire, and no receivers are required, it is normally inexpensive to install and maintain. It is compatible with most hearing aids already in use by many people and costs about what one hearing aid costs. When considering how many people will be using the system, the overall cost per user drops considerably. Another advantage is that more people will use it if they are wearing hearing aids already. There's no stigma attached and no hassle with using public equipment.
My Dad Says
"One thing to keep in mind: there must be a sound system to connect to the loop amplifier and a telecoil in a hearing aid is necessary; however, one without a telecoil or without hearing aids can use the loop with a hand held receiver and a head set or ear buds. We are trying to educate the public that: 1. those with hearing loss should purchase hearing aids. 2. when is purchasing hearing aids, one should insist that telecoils should be included."