Hearing Loop Info
“Having a hearing loop in our City Council and County Commissioners’ meeting rooms, it allows me to clearly hear what is being said, and it also allows me to participate fully in the discussions among the officials and the citizens in my community.”
– Colorado Springs
"For those of us with severe hearing loss, a hearing loop and telecoil use makes the difference between hearing and not hearing. I cannot understand anything said, even with a cochlear implant, without a loop system in an indoor presentation or performance.
As a result, access to what is available to everyone else who hears is unavailable to the hearing impaired. Costs to loop are very small compared to the benefit.
Simply, it is lack of access to what is routine and always available to normal hearing people."
– Grand Junction, CO
"Attending a church service family members mentioned how difficult it was to understand the priest’s heavy accent.
For the first time that I can remember, I commented, “With my hearing aids and the T-Coil technology, I understood him just fine.
– Glenwood Springs, CO
The Problem and Hearing Loop Solution
People with hearing loss need the highest quality sound to be able to fully participate. Reverberation, fans, air conditioners, music playing in the background, and even rustling of papers by nearby degrades the sound. It can be frustrating not to be able to clearly understand all the words. As a result, some people may not fully participate or may choose to stay at home instead.
Hearing aids are tiny technological marvels but they do have limits. They do not fix hearing as glasses fix vision, it just isn’t possible. And incredible though they are, they can struggle to pick up speech from people who are more than a few metres away, or to distill speech in noisy or echo-y places.(1)
A hearing loop bypasses background noises by providing a wireless sound from a PA system directly to 1) a headset, 2) a person's hearing aids (with telecoils) or 3) cochlear implants.
Hearing loops provide the greatest benefits to people who rely on assistive listening systems, and to venues required by the ADA to provide hearing accommodation.
A 2014 study reported by Hearing Review asked 866 adult users of T-coil equipped hearing aids and cochlear implants to rate their ability to understand speech in places such as places of worship, theaters and auditoriums and conference rooms. Less than 14 percent rated their ability to hear without a hearing loop above a seven. However, while listening in a looped area, 86 percent rated their experience between eight and ten. (see image) (2)
Research shows that audio frequency induction loops are strongly preferred by hearing aid users over FM and Infrared systems and allow venues to provide their hard-of-hearing patrons with the optimal and most convenient listening experience.
About Hearing Loops
Why hearing loops are strongly preferred over an FM system (3)
Easy to Use: To hear clearly, individuals simply switch their devices to the telecoil program and automatically receive clear customized sound. There is no need to arrive early, stand in line, or wait to return equipment after an event or meeting.
Quality Sound: A hearing loop sends sound directly to the telecoil receiver in a user’s hearing device. The system eliminates most background noise and greatly improves understanding of speech and music. Additionally, the sound received is customized by each user’s unique hearing instrument.
Discrete: Being able to hear well with a hearing loop is inconspicuous; users do not stand out as being hard of hearing which encourages participation and inclusion.
Better Hygiene: For people with hearing aids and cochlear devices, there is also no concern over the sanitation issues associated with wearing headsets or ear buds provided by venues and worn by other users.
Versatile: Hearing loops provide effective, seamless communication across the broadest spectrum of environments—from auditoriums, theaters and places of worship, to meeting and class rooms, pharmacies, ticket counters and even in users’ homes.
Transient Solution: A hearing loop enables clear sound for a person with hearing loss at pharmacies, information desks, subway ticket counters, and taxis, or when passing through airports and train stations.
Types of Hearing Loops
Throughout the world, more and more organizations are installing hearing loops:
Rooms: auditoriums, classrooms, conference rooms, council chambers, fitness rooms, lecture halls, meeting rooms, places of worship, reception rooms, theaters, etc.
Service counters and ticket windows: airports, banks, government services, grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.
Transportation: trains, buses, cabs, airports, transportation stations, etc.
Also available are portable and temporary hearing loops: small meetings, around tables, automobiles, personal home hearing loops.
How to use a Hearing Loop
With a telecoil
Easy! Simply press a button in your hearing aid, cochlear implant, or assistive device. If you don't know how, ask your audiologist or hearing aid provider for training.
There's no fuss, as you don't need to ask for any equipment. You're inconspicuous and no one ever knows.
Want to experience the hearing loop? (yes, it's okay to try it out and learn)
Don't have hearing aids, but need a better quality sound? Have hearing aids, but without a telecoil?
No problem. Checkout a headset and a receiver (usually a black box a bit larger than a deck of cards)
What is a telecoil?
A telecoil is a small copper coil installed in over 70% of hearing aids and 100% of cochlear implants (4). A telecoil, t-coil or T-program serves as a wireless receiver, which is the universal platform that connects to all ADA mandated assistive listening systems (hearing loops, FM, and infrared).
Also, a telecoil connects hearing aids and cochlear implants with neckloops to provide access to a person's home phone (amplified or captioned phone) or wireless device such as smartphones (iPhone, Droid), flip phone, and tablet (iPad).
Buying new hearing aids? Ask for a telecoil!
Some people may think they’ll ever need/use a telecoil,“Nah, I’ll never need that” even though they’ve never experienced the quality sound that a hearing loop gives (anyone with or without hearing loss can borrow a receiver/headset to experience a hearing loop).
Even if you don't think you'll use a telecoil, when you buy your hearing aids, go ahead and get a telecoil anyway. Remember you will probably keep your hearing aids for several years. Then if you change your mind, it’s easy for for the audiologist or hearing aid provider to program the telecoil later. Whenever your telecoils are programmed, make sure you understand how to use your telecoils with a hearing loop.
Remember, if a telecoil is desired in a hearing aid, they must be installed during the manufacturing process. Note, although one can access a telecoil via a streamer, it is often much easier to use if it is installed as a program in the hearing aid.
Ask your audiologist or hearing aid provider about telecoils Link (pdf)
What's Required (ADA and Building Standards)?
"In each assembly area* where audible communication is integral to the use of the space, an assistive listening system shall be provided." These are the minimum standards; an organization is encouraged to go beyond these minimum standards to meet the needs of people with hearing loss and the organization's mission.
*"A building or facility, or portion thereof, used for the purpose of entertainment, educational or civic gatherings, or similar purposes [‘religious entities’ are exempt from ADA]. Assembly areas include, but are not limited to, classrooms, lecture halls, courtrooms, public meeting rooms, public hearing rooms, legislative chambers, motion picture houses, auditoria, theaters, playhouses, dinner theaters, concert halls, centers for the performing arts, amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums, grandstands, or convention centers."
All ADA standards Link (website)
Ft. Collins City Building Design Standards Link (pdf)
It is very helpful to clearly state the hearing loop expectations up front during pre-design/construction.
"In any space over 1,000 square feet that is open for public meeting and wired with a public address system, a review should be completed to see if hearing loops should be added to the scope of the project. If loops are needed, an outside contractor will be brought in by the design team and/or general contractor for the design and installation."
Hearing Loop Signage
For nationally and internationally hearing loop signs, they are commonly blue in color and use the symbol "T" in the lower right corner.
Other signs (without a "T" symbol) could be for any type of assistive listening system (FM system, hearing loop, or Infrared/IR system).
However, it is VERY helpful to let people know specifically what type of system is available so they can prepare.
Signage needs to be easily seen, and is often placed on a wall inside and/or outside of a room, or on a counter desktop (see ADA standards). Hopefully someday, these signs will be recognized as easily as accessible parking signs.
In addition, it is very helpful to include signage on webpages, in programs, bulletins, and newsletters.
Hearing Loop – the Preferred Large Area Assistive Listening System: Here’s Why (2019) Link (web)
By Juliëtte Sterkens, AuD. Canadian Audiologist. Vol 6, Issue 1
Recently there has been a renewed interest in assistive listening technology in North America. Driven not only by changes in laws – the Americans with Disabilities Act was updated in 2010 and the Canadian Accessibility Act is poised to pass in 2019 – but also thanks to the work of caring hearing providers who would like to help their clients to hear everywhere, and a growing group of passionate hearing advocates are working to raise public awareness for improved accessibility. They are supported by a small but growing, determined group of trained hearing loop installers.
Louder isn't Necessarily Better (2016). Link (web)
Stephen O. Frazier. Sound & Communication. September, pp. 72-74.
Getting People With Hearing Loss in the Loop (2019) Link (web)
By David G. Myers. Perspectives on Psychological Science, January, pp. 29–33.
Given the inertia supporting the existing hearing-aid incompatible assistive listening—which is what audiovisual equipment installers have known (and hey, it is easily installed and works for them)—how could we persuade them and hearing professionals to consider the human factor—the benefits of simplicity-of-use, inconspicuousness, and customized sound output with hearing loops? Although Myers' west Michigan initiative helped launch the U.S. hearing loop movement, the greater force of this advocacy comes from its emerging collective power.
America Is Getting in the Hearing Loop (2018) Link (pdf)
By Stephen O. Frazier. Hearing Life, March/April, pp. 43-45.
The creation of the "Get in the Hearing Loop" campaign in 2010 really was the start of something big and it has inspired an impressive consumer-driven effort that stretches from coast to coast. There are now nearly three dozen US-based looping campaigns.
by Thomas Kaufmann, Otojoy, Juliette Sterkens, Hearing Loss Association of America, and John M. Woodgate, J M Woodgate and Associates. J. Audio Eng. Soc., April, pp. 298-302.
This article discusses the benefits of hearing loops as an effective and user-friendly assistive listening technology and summarizes the current progress of adoption in the United States.
(2) Hearing Loops: The Preferred Assistive Listening Technology (2015). article above.
(3) Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)
(4) Kochkin S. 2010. MarkeTrak VIII: Customer satisfaction with hearing aids is slowly increasing. Hearing Journal. pp. 11-19.