Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Loops
There’s a lot to learn about hearing loops. In this section, we share some of the questions asked most often. If you have question that you don’t see listed, we invite you to contact us.
How Do Assistive Listening Systems Work?
The technology behind hearing loops, or assistive listening systems, is relatively simple. Electromagnetic waves produced by an electronic sound source such as a microphone induces an analogous current in a copper loop around the room. The copper telecoil wire in hearing aids and cochlear implants picks up the signal via induction and transmits it for amplification and transmission out of the hearing device.
Is the hearing loop technology new?
Hearing loops have been used for years in Europe. The first induction loop system was created in the Netherlands in the 1960s. The hearing loop technology has been slow to spread to the U.S. because, until recently, many hearing aids were not equipped with telecoils. According to the American Academy of Audiology, today almost 70% of all hearing aids dispensed in the U.S. have telecoils, and that number is on the rise. As a result, there is increasing interest in hearing loops.
What is the main advantages that the hearing loops offer over other assertive listening systems?
- Deliver sound directly to the hearing aid in a pure, undistorted form. Since hearing aids are customized for an individual’s specific hearing loss, the individual ends up receiving sound that is tailored to his or her specific hearing needs.
- Offer a discrete way for individuals to take advantage of assistive hearing systems. The user does not need to pick up or return equipment, or publicly acknowledge his or her hearing impairment by wearing an obvious headset.
- Use base band audio to transmit sound, avoiding the problems associated with operating on multiple frequencies as with FM hearing enhancement systems. The audio signal is not affected by the distance the listener is from the sound source, nor by any interfering background noises.
- Offer a simple-to-use solution for hearing-impaired guests to enjoy public presentations. All they need to do is touch a button to switch their hearing aids to the “T” setting to activate the telecoil.
- Accommodates a variety of signals as input, including microphones, audio systems, TVs and mixer boards.Can be configured in phased array and low-spillover designs so sound is confined to particular areas and is not shared room-to-room.
What is the biggest challenge to hearing loop effectiveness?
User education is actually the biggest challenge. Many people have no idea that their hearing aid or cochlear implant has a T-coil. Even if an organization posts the universal hearing loop symbol, people may not fully understand that they can easily take advantage of the technology using their existing assistive hearing device. It helps to provide some information about T-coils on signs, in programs and in public presentations.
Are there any venues that just cannot be looped?
Ninety percent of all facilities can be looped effectively. Steel and concrete with rebar can make an installation more complex. It is important to have a professional hearing loop installer conduct an initial site assessment to determine the effectiveness of a hearing loop for a particular venue.
Is non-structural magnetic interference a problem with hearing loops?
Generally not. Old computer monitors, old fluorescent lighting, and some old dimmer switches generate interference, as do some cars and all airplanes. But all the successful current installations show that interference-free installation is nearly always possible.
Can hearing loops serve those without telecoil-equipped hearing aids or without hearing aids entirely?
Yes, hearing loops typically come with portable receivers and headsets to serve people who don’t have T-coil equipped hearing aids. As T-coils have become commonplace, we find that most receivers and headsets are not used.
Can hearing loops be used in adjacent rooms?
Yes, systems can be designed that control sound spillover between adjacent rooms.
Can you see the hearing loop?
No, the hearing loop does not affect the venue’s architecture or appearance at all.
Do I need to do anything to maintain a hearing loop?
Just check it monthly to make sure that it is working properly. Installations often come with a special listening device to allow a non-hearing aid wearer to access the induction loop.
How do people know that a hearing loop is available?
The venue will post this internationally accepted symbol.