by Dr. Andrea Livingston
In today’s world, there are more things demanding our attention than ever before. As the competition for our attention grows, the volume of sound also continually increases. As an audiologist, I have seen this trend reflected in my field.
Hearing loss in the U.S. is on the rise as more environmental risk factors impair the ability to preserve strong hearing. The rise in hearing loss has caused public spaces and businesses to evaluate and improve their accessibility practices to be more inclusive of individuals with hearing loss. One solution used in Northern Europe for decades is finally gaining traction in the United States – and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
While today’s digital hearing aids successfully enhance hearing in conversational settings, sounds are less clear when speakers are at a distance, such as in an auditorium or when the environment is noisy. A hearing loop is a form of technology designed to make these situations more accessible to people with hearing devices.
It works by looping a cable around the perimeter of designated area, which is generally a room or building, that generates a magnetic field. The magnetic field is then picked up by the hearing device, and sound is transferred to the t-coil, a thin strand of copper wire found in most hearing devices. Audio is delivered from the t-coil directly to the device. This helps individuals to hear the audio over the background noise.
Places such as auditoriums, club houses, concert venues and high-traffic buildings are now adopting this technology. In areas where the technology has been installed, you will see a hearing loop sign [pictured here] near the entrance. This movement is promoted by many advocacy groups, which work toward the implementation of hearing loops in public spaces.
By making hearing loops standard, we will allow individuals with hearing devices and cochlear implants greater independence and higher quality of life. As the number of individuals impacted by hearing loss continues to grow, this technology will become more prevalent. To learn more about this technology, you can contact our team directly at (863) 386-9111.