Hearing loops have been in the news recently as more venues are installing them to help those with hearing loss. A hearing loop is an assisted listening device. It helps a patron with hearing aids have the same listening experience as someone with normal hearing. When a venue has a hearing loop, hearing aid wearers can have sound transmitted directly into their ears without using any extra equipment.
Assisted Listening Devices
ALDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are designed to be used with hearing aids and others are designed to be used alone. You may have seen or had to use an ALD at a movie theater or speaking engagement that required you to wear bulky headphones or some similar devices that made you stick out in the crowd. Hearing loops change that because no one has to know you are using it.
A hearing loop is simply a special wire that has been installed around the perimeter of the room that is connected to the sound system. The wire transmits the sound through an electromagnetic signal. Hearing aids that have a telecoil can pick up the signal. Hearing aid users just flip a switch or tap a button on their hearing aid and suddenly it is like they are sitting directly in front of the speaker.
A telecoil serves as a tiny antenna built into the hearing aid. They pick up the signal from the hearing loop and allow the user to stream sounds from the source directly into their ears. This virtually eliminates background noise.
Another advantage of using the hearing loop with your hearing aid is the customized sound you hear. Your hearing aid is already tuned to your particular hearing loss, so the sound you hear through the telecoil will be transmitted the same way.
Hearing loops have recently gained popularity. They can now be found in a wide array of venues from churches, to airport terminals, to ticket windows and grocery stores. A venue with a hearing loop will display the purple sign you see above. This lets you know to turn to the telecoil setting on your hearing aid. This is the universal sign for hearing loop.
The same technology is also being developed for use in your home. You could have a hearing loop installed in your living room. Then the hearing aid wearer listens to the TV at a volume tailored specifically to their needs. And everyone else in the room enjoys the TV at a normal level.
If you are shopping for a hearing aid, be sure to talk with your hearing specialist about devices with telecoils. They will help you determine if hearing loop technology could benefit you.