Hearing Loop Solutions
In addition to hearing loops in the classroom, there are many other situations where hearing aid users can benefit from using a hearing loop.
Hearing loops at train stations
Hearing aid users can benefit from hearing loops at train stations, it gives them independence and increases their confidence to travel. Hearing loops are installed at multiple locations in train stations, such as:
- Ticket counters
- Information desks
Hearing aid users will have the T switch on whilst at the counter and will not hear public announcements delivered by loud speaker. Remember that while you are connected to the hearing loop, you can not hear background noise. In order to solve this issue, most train stations will also feed public announcements through hearing loops at counters, info desks, lifts and platforms so that hearing aid users don’t miss out on public announcements while they are connected to the hearing loop.
Hearing loops on public transport
Having a hearing loop on buses, trains and trams can be helpful for people with hearing impairment who want to hear stop announcements. Sometimes announcements are just not clear enough to be heard, especially during peak hours and lots of background noise. With a hearing loop installed on public transport, people with hearing impairment can turn on the "T" switch of their hearing aid and feel confident hearing announcements.
Most hearing loop drives are installed on the upper wall of trains and buses. This is to prevent the metal parts of the carriage from changing the frequency response and interfering with the electromagnetic signal.
Hearing loops at home
Installing a hearing loop at home can help people with hearing loss feel included in home activities. For users with a T switch hearing aid, hearing loops are particularly useful for hearing the TV without having to turn up the volume to a level that is obnoxious to everyone else. A hearing loop removes any reverberations of sound from furniture, walls and floors and directly feeds audio into the hearing aid for better quality sound.
Before installing a hearing loop into your home, it is important to identify where there might be interference from things such as power cables. It is also worthy to note that hearing loops do not always work with audio from videos played back on the tv.
Depending on the area you want to cover, loop systems can cost between $290 and $405
Hearing loops in meeting rooms
People with hearing loss in the workplace may struggle to keep up with conversations in meetings because they find it hard to focus on more than one person talking at a time. A hearing loop can resolve this issue in meeting rooms but there are complications with installing them in small venues.
While it is possible to install hearing loops into meeting rooms, privacy might be compromised. Remember that a hearing loop emits a magnetic field which gets picked up by the T switch of the hearing aid. This field can leak into other rooms and other users with a T switch hearing aid can listen in on the conversation.
If the meeting room has too much metal, it may be challenging if not impossible to install a hearing loop without also introducing unwanted magnetic background noise (a low humming noise).
A hearing loop is mainly intended for removing background noise
As an alternative to a hearing loop, there are other assistive listening solutions, such as FM devices, IR devices and Roger Pens. They transmit audio signal to a receiver carried by the listener. These devices are a more discreet, portable solution and provide privacy where hearing loops may not.
Another alternative is to use a portable/counter/desktop hearing loop. Please see below.
When using portable hearing loops in a meeting, it is important to make everyone aware of the system, how to operate it and how to ensure that it is working.
Portable hearing loops
Portable hearing loops are a possible solution for situations where occasional amplification is required, such as:
- Retail stores
- Reception desks
- Small meeting rooms
- Health centres
Having a portable hearing loop at these locations allows people with hearing impairment to hear better and be included in the community.
Something to consider when incorporating portable hearing loops to the workplace is that meticulous training is required for all staff who interact with clients. If training isn't done properly it can ruin the perception of hearing loops for people with hearing impairment and create a frustrating user experience.
A portable hearing loop is less discrete than a permanently installed hearing loop.
Temporary hearing loops
There are portable perimeter loop kits for laying down temporary hearing loops in rooms. However, the issue with portable hearing loops is that they rarely work after quick installation and provide little service to actual users. As a result, portable hearing loops aren’t very beneficial as personal devices. They are more suited to situations where a permanent hearing loop installing is not achievable due to renovations to the building/floor or at temporary events like festivals
The installation of hearing loops in public and private places can help people with hearing loss hear better and be included in the community.
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