by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
I want to take a trip that is a tour by bus where there will be much sightseeing and a tour guide who will be talking through a microphone as we ride from place to place. I will not be able to listen and look at the sights unless I have the sound piped into my ears. I cannot understand those who speak through microphones ’cause they cover their lips while they speak into the mic. I do wear hearing aids with t-coils. Is there anything where the microphone can be hooked to a loop system on me, so his words will come straight into my ears? If you know of anything that works, I would greatly appreciate your help in this!
As far as I know, the devices that tour guides typically use are public address systems of one kind or other. As such, there is no easy (read built-in) way to couple them to your hearing aids. This is not to say that they couldn’t make things accessible to hard of hearing people. For example, one bus line has installed loop systems in all their buses. In those buses, all you have to do is switch your hearing aids to t-coil mode and you’ll hear the guide/driver loud and clear.
If your bus is not looped, all is not lost however. You just need to provide your own assistive listening device—one so simple the tour guide just turns it on and forgets he has it. I’ve done this on bus tours. I’ve done this with tour guides in guided tours through underground caverns. I’ve done this in guided tours through art galleries. You get the idea. It can work wonderfully well in any venue.
All you need is a personal FM system. You give the tour guide your FM transmitter. He wears it on his belt/pocket/lanyard around neck and clips the lapel microphone to his collar. All he has to do is turn the switch to on and forget he even has it.
Now you’ll hear him whether you can see him or not. The system I use is the Comfort Contego FM system. You can see the Comfort Contego here. Get the option of the Contego that comes with its own neckloop.
Just wear the receiver on your neckloop/lanyard around your neck and or put it in a nearby pocket. Switch your hearing aids to t-coil mode and there you are—beautiful clear sound.
Typically, good FM systems aren’t cheap, but they are sure worth it. The Comfort Contego system lets you hear the guide crystal clear even when he is 100 to 150 feet away from you.
Another cool feature of the particular model I carry is that you also have a local microphone on the receiver so you can hear the people around you if you want to. You have two separate volume controls—one for the remote FM system (tour guide) and one for local sounds (the person sitting beside you on the bus for example).
Incidentally, if you don’t want to listen with your hearing aids and t-coils (maybe the batteries died), you can plug earbuds or headphones into the earphone/neckloop jack instead of the neckloop and hear that way. I often use mine this way. The Comfort Contego is one very versatile system!