hearing loopLarge meeting areas, churches, and public transportation centers should be looped for the hearing impaired.  In Europe, a large portion of public venues are looped.  In NYC, even the subway is looped.  In Chicago, a few theaters and a couple dozen churches are looped for the hearing impaired.

Sometimes hearing aids aren’t enough.  There are hearing aid stores with hearing instrument dispensers who advertise that they have the smallest hearing aids and for the cheapest prices.  We have found that our patients just want to hear.  Smallest isn’t necessarily best.

Hearing aids can help correct someone’s ability to hear sounds at relatively close distances in both quiet and background noise, however they cannot help as much as one would hope in a large theater or meeting place.  The damaged ear along with the hearing aid make it difficult for the brain to ignore echoes and ambient noises while listening to a voice 10, 20, or even 50 yards away.  Public address systems help bring voices to a large audience, but for a person with a hearing impairment, it can be stressful and difficult to try and understand what the person at the podium is saying.

Hearing aids can easily and affordably become wireless receivers if a meeting place is connected with induction loop technology.  About 70% of all hearing aids already have a telecoil in them and an audiologist just needs to activate it and instruct the patient about how to use it when they go to a meeting place that is looped for the hearing impaired.

 “The hearing loop transforms the microphone that is used on the lectern, or the pulpit, or worn on the ear of an actor on stage directly into the microphone of the hearing aid.  It is as if the user has his or her ear just inches away from the mouth of the speaker.  Their result is a dramatic improvement in signal-to-noise ratio… that could never be obtained with hearing aids alone”, says Dr. Juliette Sterkens in an article published recently in Audiology Today.

The hearing aid users from our office that have tried it are very, very happy because they could many times hear better than their normal hearing counterparts.  It is like they were right up on the stage with the actors / lecturers.  When a new hearing aid is ordered, it doesn’t cost extra to choose a model with a telecoil.  The patient simply needs to be counseled about how much of a benefit it can be to order this type of model.  It is law in Florida that a patient is educated about the benefits of a telecoil before purchasing hearing aids.

If you attend a performance or meeting and had a difficult time hearing, please suggest to the venue to look into having it “looped” for the hearing impaired.

Our office can help any facility.  Churches, synagogues, theaters, community centers, and residental community meeting rooms can all be looped for the hearing impaired.  I can even test the system the day of installation, help give talks before and after installation, as well as donate the actual looping system if the facility pays for the installation.

Dr. Dawn Heiman is a clinical audiologist with a private practice, Advanced Audiology Consultants, in Oak Brook, Illinois.  She has been helping people hear better for over 15 years.   www.chicagoaudiologyandhearingaids.com  630-930-1025