What Are Hearing Loops?

What Are Hearing Loops?

August 11, 2021

A microphone or jack from a public address system is plugged into the amplifier and the sound is then transmitted through the loop. The loop emits it as a silent electromagnetic signal. Tiny receivers called telecoils or t-coils found in most hearing aids and cochlear implant processors receive that signal and the devices turn it into sound.

Users activate what is called a T-switch on their hearing device to connect to the loop signal and, if they wish, they can turn off the microphones in the devices to rid themselves of most of the background noise that can impede their ability to understand spoken words.

The International Hearing Loop Manufacturers Association reports that loops can improve speech recognition by users from as little as 0% to as much as 90% of the words heard and understood.

For travellers with hearing issues, travel through an airport terminal is fraught with aural rather than physical obstacles. Their hearing loss, the inability of hearing aids to suppress background noise adequately and the typical cacophony of a terminal can make speech comprehension anywhere from challenging to impossible. They must often rely on note passing or the kindness of strangers to communicate with an agent at the ticket counter.

Missed words from the PA system can lead not just to misunderstandings but to missed flights. Hearing aids are sometimes incapable of adequately blocking the speech covering sounds of the typical airport concourse. That sound makes it difficult or impossible to identify consonants and to tell the difference between seven and eleven or between concourse B and concourse C. Frustrated and sometimes frightened by the communication problems they face, for some hearing disabled travelers fear of the terminal can be greater than any fear of flying.

At airports worldwide, hearing loops are the international solution to communication access. Bluetooth and other wireless assistive listening technologies cannot, at least at present, provide the sort of convenient, user friendly communication access that the electromagnetic transmission of sound offers through hearing loops.

From Runway Girl Network

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