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"As a person with hearing loss, I often find lectures, plays, and PA system announcements indecipherable. But who else notices? Unlike someone visibly left outside because of wheelchair inaccessibility - which would leave others appalled - inaccessibility due to hearing loss is invisible and thus often unremedied."
- David Myers, author and a professor of psychology at Hope College
Assist 2 Hear, LLC is proud to be at the forefront of the initiative to professionally install Induction Loops in Colorado and across the nation. Our trained and certified installers work to install and test loop systems to get the best coverage across the area being looped. You will find a listing of public and private installations of Loops in Colorado and other areas on our Loop Colorado Directory page. Loop Initiatives are gearing up nationwide. Read on to find out more about Induction Hearing Loops and how they can help those with hearing aids hear clearly in venues that typically have been difficult or impossible to understand what the speaker is saying.
Print a pdf copy about Looping America to hand out to others
WHAT IS A HEARING LOOP (Induction Loop)?
Loop systems have many names but all refer to a magnetic field that talks directly to the t-coil in hearing aids to allow the user to hear clearly and understand the spoken word or audio. Audio Induction Loops, Induction Loops or Hearing Loops are prominent in Europe and awareness in the US is on the rise. A Hearing Loop in its simple form is a loop of wire placed around a room which is plugged into an amplifier to create a magnetic signal. This magnetic signal is then sent to the T-coil in a hearing aid for clear sound without interference. In reality, perimeter loops are not usually appropriate except in small rooms and figure eights, snowman or phased array designs are most common.
There are currently three wireless technologies approved by ADA for assistive listening: 1) Infrared, 2) FM and 3)Audio Induction Loop. Infrared and FM systems have limits due to varying frequencies and require a “receiver” such as a headset or neck loop. Hearing Loops are very simple and consist of three basic parts – an amplifier, microphone and thin loop wire. The loop wire is run around a room or auditorium, connected to the amplifier which is then routed to a TV, PA system, radio or microphone. The beauty of Hearing Loops is that they do not require any external receiving units – only a T-coil in a hearing aid, allowing the user to discreetly switch to the "T" program and enjoy the program. For those without hearing aids or T-Coils, headsets compatible with the Loop are available. Bluetooth is a short range signal and works well with phones and televisions but is not appropriate for large venues, not to mention high battery drain with Bluetooth.
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 can be retro-fitted with one for $100-$300 which is money well spent to experience the clear sound through loop in your home or in public venues.
WHERE ARE HEARING LOOPS APPROPRIATE?
Induction Hearing Loops are appropriate for two environments: transient/short term and extended/permanent. Extended time Induction Loops are appropriate for public venues such as churches, auditoriums, meeting rooms, classrooms and concert halls. Loop systems are available for transient locations such as bank windows, pharmacies, post offices, hotel reception desks, airport/bus/train counters, information booths, etc. There are also residential systems for home use in TV rooms or any room in the home. Loop systems can be used with all phones with 2.5 mm headset jacks.
WHY INDUCTION HEARING LOOPS?
Induction Hearing Loops improve listening clarity for those with hearing aids. The hearing aid must have a T-coil but estimates are that about 65-70% of hearing aids in use today have T-coils. Many of the new hearing aids have T-coils or can have them added, even the Bluetooth hearing aids. Installation of Induction Loops is a very cost effective way to improve communication for the hearing impaired population, while conforming to ADA guidelines. FM systems typically installed in venues get minimal use since most people do not want to wear a headphone and advertise their hearing loss.
HOW DOES A 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.
HOW IS A LOOP INSTALLED?
A Loop system is easily installed in most venues. We use either flat loop wire under carpet or round loop wire scored in concrete or in a vinyl track. Loop layouts can be a perimeter loop, figure 8 or snowman layout or a phased array design to control spill or account for metal loss. Professional 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. Installing a perimeter loop in a small room such as a home TV room or very small conference room can be done easily. But larger rooms such as churches, auditoriums, large conference rooms and other venues should be professionally installed. Considerations such as room size, construction (especially metal in the construction) and room use are all important in the loop design.
Be sure to have your loop system installed by a professional to make sure it meets standards and can be tested to ensure good field strength and user satisfaction. Don't get caught with a system that does not help those that it is intended to serve!
WHAT DOES A HEARING LOOP SYSTEM COST
Loop systems vary in cost, depending on the size and construction of the room. Small installations such as a conference room, bank or pharmacy counter may cost $1,500-$3,500 while larger venues such as churches and auditoriums may cost $5,000-$20,000 or more. Things considered when installing a loop system are construction of the building, size, layout, use of the room, construction and metal in the room, and EMI issues from other electrical sources.
To put the cost in perspective, ONE set of hearing aids typically costs $4,000 to $7,000. The cost of a loop most often is about the cost of one or two sets of hearing aids while serving an unlimited number of users in the loop! And people get to use their hearing aids already programmed for their own hearing loss.
ADVANTAGES OF A LOOP SYSTEM:
Ready to discuss an Induction Loop System for your venue?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daulton Smith or Laura Hansen
In Colorado: 720-210-9653