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By: Sterkens, Juliëtte AuD
The dramatic benefits of hearing loops have been documented in two studies. A survey in 2014 asked 866 people to rate the performance of their hearing aids or cochlear implants using a 10-point scale (Hear Rev, 2014). The average response was 4.9 in a non-looped setting and 8.7 in a looped environment. A 2016 study by Faivre found that hearing loops greatly improved speech understanding and sound quality, and reduced listening effort (Hear Rev, 2016).
How can a hearing loop deliver such dramatic improvements? Simple. In a hearing loop, the microphone of the PA system is the microphone to the hearing aid. The distance and reverberation limitations of hearing aid microphones are overcome in a loop. Instead of acoustically transmitting sound, this setup transfers sound via a magnetic field. Those in a loop hear the cleanest and purest sound possible, often at signal-to-noise ratios that enable even those with severe and profound hearing loss to understand speech.
The hearing loop movement is spreading across the United States, with new equipment vendors and dozens of trained installers. There are thousands of installed hearing loops across the country, from small areas (i.e., all new New York City taxis), to medium-sized worship places and auditoriums, and to sizable airports and stadiums (including the Michigan State Univeristy’s basketball arena). This increased hearing aid functionality bodes well both for hearing care providers and those we serve.
Here are some common questions about Hearing Loops and Arkansas Loops (a division of Saline Audiology)
Do we speak to groups about Hearing Loops?
Yes. If you are a member of a group and you believe information about Hearing Loops can benefit you, your group, or any organization your group is associated with, please contact us and we will setup a free presentation.
What is a t-coil?
A t-coil, or telephone coil, is a small copper coil in most hearing aids that picks up a magnetic field from the loop and converts it into electrical energy. This is similar to how a microphone converts sound waves in to electrical energy. By switching the hearing aid to the “T” position, the electromagnetic field is detected. The strength of that field depends on the size of the t-coil, energy or power of the magnetic field and the relative positions of the t-coil. For telephone usage, the t-coil is best when horizontal relative to the phone receiver; however, the best reception for loops is a vertical orientation. So many audiologist set the t-coil at a 45 degree angle to work with both the telephone and induction loops. It is very important for your audiologist to take as much time programming and evaluating the t-coil as the microphone for optimal satisfaction of the user. An M/T position on the hearing aid allows the wearer to hear through the t-coil but also hear through the microphone, which is preferred by some so they can hear the person next to them or others in the room in addition to the direct signal from the loop. A manual “T” or “M/T” switch is a must to allow the user control over the programs.
Be advised that many hearing aids are fitted with a t-coil but the audiologist may not have activated the program or the volume may be set very low and need to be adjusted to hear satisfactorily through a loop. Some hearing aids that do not have a t-coil may be retro-fitted to experience the clear sound through loop in your home or in public venues.
Where are Induction Loops used?
Anywhere that has a Sound Source
Hearing loops are appropriate for two environments: transient/short term and extended/permanent. Extended time induction hearing loops are appropriate for public venues (commercial use), such as churches, auditoriums, meeting rooms and concert halls. Loop systems are available for transient locations such as bank windows, pharmacies, post offices, hotel reception desks, airport counters, information booths, etc. Even tour buses, taxis and trains can be looped. We analyze your public venue to determine the best design for you.
How does a Hearing Loop work?
The loop creates a magnetic field that is picked up by the T-coil in a hearing aid and is converted to audible sound sent from the amplifier. When the T-coil is activated in the hearing aid, feedback and background noise is eliminated or greatly reduced which results in a clearer signal from the source of the sound.
Why Induction Hearing Loops?
Induction loops improve listening clarity for those with hearing aids. The hearing aid must have a T-coil but estimates are that about 65 to 70 percent of hearing aids in use today have T-coils. Nearly all new hearing aids now have T-coils, so eventually all hearing aids will utilize the T-coil technology. Installation of induction loops is a very cost-effective way to improve communication for the hearing impaired population, while conforming to ADA guidelines.
Advantages of a loop system:
– Businesses or venues that install loop systems have virtually no maintenance on the system and do not have to purchase or maintain/sanitize/repair headphones such as those used with infrared or FM systems.
– There is no limit as to the number of users of the system – it is virtually unlimited.
– Users do not have to “advertise” their disability by using headphones – they only have to turn on their T-coil – so there is no stigma attached to the usage of the loop system.
– Users benefit from the loop technology AND their customized hearing aids for the best possible hearing experience. The loop system helps the hearing aid do its job.
– Loop technology uses a universal standard system any T-coil equipped instrument user can use at home in a TV room or worldwide.
– All hearing aids with manual T-coils work with all loop systems. Cochlear implants also have T-coils.
– Listeners use hearing aids they own. Sound is optimized for their personal hearing loss and needs.
– Improved clarity and understanding benefits businesses and individuals.
– A loop system has a reasonable cost to install with minimal or no maintenance.
– Loop systems don’t require you to purchase, maintain, and replace portable receiving units.
– Portable units can be purchased for those without suitably equipped hearing aids at $145 each. We include one receiver for monitoring purposes. ADA requires headsets for 1% of seating occupancy so a 400 seat room would need 4 loop receivers.
– Our experience is that loop systems are far more likely to be used – and increasingly used – once installed.
How much does a Loop system cost?
Commercial loop installations vary from building to building, depending on construction, floor coverings, electrical interference, size, etc. A customized quote will be provided for each building and our professional installers will typically complete the installation in a couple of days. A professional installation is a must to ensure a quality system with even sound across the room.
How is a Loop installed?
A loop system from Saline Audiology is installed by professionals. A test loop may be run to make sure the proposed design will work before we do the permanent installation. Installations are required to meet the international standard IEC 60118-4, which defines the magnetic strength field, frequencies and measurement requirements. Installations are tested with a FSM (field strength meter) to confirm compliance.
We offer your church, auditorium, corporate meeting room, bank, senior center or private venue the support you need to successfully go “live” with the hearing loop.
– Custom design and installation to ensure you get the right product for your venue
– Signage to inform that a Hearing Loop is installed
– Plaques to commemorate the generosity of any donor(s) available upon request
– Hand outs to educate users and the general public
– Publish-ready announcements for your newsletter, church bulletin or emails
– We can help you with a news release to send to the newspaper, church magazine or blogs
– We will post your location on our website directory as being accessible for persons who use hearing aids
– With each installed hearing loop system, we will be available to answer questions, offer hands-on instruction and verify that the system works to the satisfaction of the end users. The loop will be in working order as soon as installation is completed. We typically ask that a few known hearing aid users provide us with feedback.
If you need more information, please contact us for a free consultation.
501-778-3868 0r 501-922-0053