What are Hearing Loops?
An audio frequency induction loop or hearing loop is used to make communication easier for hearing aid wearers. It is a system that is often permanently installed to send sound from a source directly to hearing aids. Because the hearing aid is used as a receiver, this is the assistive listening technology that is most convenient and most effective for end-users where it can be employed.
A loop creates a magnetic signal that is picked up by a hearing aid when this is set to its ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting. This technology has been around for many years and is relatively straight forward in its basic form. While simple in principle, a good understanding of the technology and the user’s needs is essential to avoid some common traps in the installation and use of loop systems.
Who benefits from Hearing Loops?
People with hearing loss may find it difficult to hear the spoken word in places where there is ambient noise or poor room acoustics (which can create feelings of isolation for them). This can include: shops, supermarkets, banks, Post Offices, cinemas, theatres, meeting rooms, worship facilities and many other venues. A correctly installed loop system overcome's these problems and helps alleviate background noise
Why should I provide Hearing Loops?
Service providers should provide hearing loops because it is required by law in many places, but also because it will make your goods and services more accessible and raise customer service levels. Good accessibility can increase customer loyalty and generate greater revenue streams. Many countries have strong legislation to require the use of assistive technologies wherever it is reasonable to do so, so services are accessible to all. Without hearing assistance solutions you may be discriminating against disabled people and could face legal action. Other benefits include an improved public image, better customer loyalty, increased brand awareness and good publicity.
Where can Hearing Loops be used?
Induction Loops can be beneficial in a very wide range of environments, from large venues such as theatres and conference facilities, to one-to-one communications such as ticket counters and meeting rooms. They are the only effective solution to assist hearing aid users in transport environments, in vehicles, terminals and stations. Loops are successfully used today in all of the following applications:
- Transport Systems
Airports, stations and transport networks, Elevators, Help points, Car park access points
Taxis and private cars, Minibuses, Coaches, Trains, Trams and Boats
Theatres, cinemas and concert halls, Stadia and sports venues, Places of Worship, Conference and lecture halls
Counters, Intercoms and entry-phones, Drive-throughs, Help points
Meeting rooms, Video conference facilities, Desks and offices
TV rooms, Phones, Individual car systems
Lecture halls, Classrooms
Public address systems, Voice alarm systems, Help points
- There is substantial background noise, which will reduce the effectiveness of any assistive listening system
- There is no practical way to install the loop cable (sometimes requires creative solutions – ask if you are not sure!)
- There is no sufficiently good quality audio source available
- Electrical instruments such as electric guitars, electric bass guitars or dynamic microphones are used within the area covered by the loop and interference can not be controlled through loop design.