An estimated 36 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Even when using the best hearing aids, some people with hearing loss continue to experience difficulty understanding in noisy or group situations.
Imagine the frustration of a person who has been waiting at the gate for the airplane to board, only to learn that she missed the flight because she did not hear the overhead announcement that the gate was changed. Fortunately, technology exists to help people hear better in situations like these.
Induction loop systems use a magnetic signal to transmit sounds to a listener. A cable consisting of copper wire is looped around an area, typically on the floor of a room. A magnetic field is generated within the loop which may be wirelessly transmitted to a hearing device or cochlear implant that contains a telecoil. A special receiver may be available for people who do not have their own devices.
When a person speaks into a microphone, the voice is sent to an amplifier which then transmits to the loop. A magnetic field develops and the telecoil inside the hearing device receives the signal, thus providing a favorable listening situation, especially when noise is present. Public use of a loop system includes small areas like a ticket window at a theatre, or larger areas such as an auditorium or place of worship. Personal use of loop systems can also be utilized in a person’s home. Some people will loop their living room or the area around their couch in order to improve their ability to understand the television.
In Great Britain and Scandinavian countries, loop systems are becoming common in public buildings. It is typical in those countries to find that taxis are looped, enabling the passenger to hear the driver better. New York City has recently looped the information windows at subway stations. The city of Holland, Michigan has also looped churches, auditoriums, and community centers in order to help members of their communities hear better. Why not loop San Antonio? If you want to help the effort to make induction loop technology more available, you may visit www.hearingloop.org for more information.
Michelle Tejada, AuD and Jerome Evans, AuD, are audiologists at University Health System
Photo by Skitterphoto, Pixabay