Almost every person with a hearing impairment wears a hearing aid. However, in a group setting or a public place, it is not easy to differentiate between background noise and the main source of sound. For example, at a train station, an announcement for the next train may not be heard very clearly because of all the other sounds in the vicinity picked up by the hearing aid. Similar environments like auditoriums, community gatherings, classrooms etc. make hearing aids pick up all sounds that are present, thus making it difficult for the main sound to be heard clearly.
Induction loops have been around for decades but have picked up quite a bit in the last 5 years or so. They are one of the best assistive technology solutions available to enhance sound for deaf people in a public setting. The technology involves looping a room with copper wire. When a person speaks into a mic, or makes an announcement, their sound, through the device they are using, is sent to an amplifier. The current that is produced by the amplifier is sent to the loop system, creating a magnetic field that transmits an audio frequency. This current is picked up by the t-coil or telecoil inside a hearing aid, and is translated into audio. Thus, through the induction loop system, audio is entered directly from the source into the person’s ear canal without background noise or other audio interferences nearby. All hearing aids, old or new, have t-coil built into them.
Metro Sound Pros is the first company that started implementing induction or hearing loop systems, and it was a New York Times article earlier this decade that kind of made this technology a little more mainstream. Today, there are several establishments, from hospitals, universities, religious institutions to subway stations, old age homes and libraries that offer hearing loops. There is also a website (and an app), loopfinder.com that will show you all venues in your area that have hearing loop enabled. Every hearing loop enabled venue has the following logo displayed:
The following videos will give you more in depth information of what hearing loop is and how it works.
Featured Image Source: Zounds Hearing