by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
There are a number of assistive technologies that help us (people with hearing loss) hear beautiful, clear sound. In addition to loop systems, there are FM (and other RF and bluetooth systems), infrared systems and direct wired systems. All of these work well for us, although some have specific advantages in specific situations.
Loop systems, however, have seven distinct advantages over these other hearing assistive systems. Here are some of the advantages that make loop systems so valuable, not only to hard-of-hearing people, but also to the owners of looped venues.
1. Since audio-frequency loop systems make use of the principles of magnetic induction, hard-of-hearing people wearing hearing aids that have telecoils do not need any other equipment in order to clearly hear the sound source. They can freely move around or sit anywhere within the area covered by the hearing loop.
2. Hard-of-hearing people can use their own telecoil-equipped hearing aids which are correctly matched to their specific hearing losses. They do not have to take their hearing aids off in order to use the facility’s assistive device.
3. Telecoils do not use any additional power so they do not drain a hearing aid’s battery faster than normal.
4. Hard-of-hearing people with telecoils in their hearing aids do not require special receivers that they otherwise would have to pick up before, and return after, each meeting. Nor do they have to worry about the batteries going dead and search out a staff person who can replace the batteries.
5. Facility operators do not have to supply the receivers, make them available for pickup and ensure their return. This saves them manpower and money. Thus, loop systems are a win-win situation for both hard-of-hearing people and the facility operators of looped facilities.
6. Loop systems give accessibility access. Did you know that there are 12 to 15 times as many hard-of-hearing people as there are people in wheelchairs. Wheelchair ramps abound. Why not loop systems too? That is why hearing accessibility is so important.
7. Loop systems are universal. There is nothing proprietary about them. This means they will work with any hearing aids that have telecoils. Furthermore, they can work anywhere in the world since they are not dependent on proprietary technology nor on a specific frequency band. (Note: frequency band allocations vary depending on which country you are in.)