HEARING LOOP BENEFITS
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.