When a hearing aid wearer tries to tune in to a speaker in a crowded place, the levels of background noise can easily become daunting. Auditoriums, concert halls, places of worship and theaters are particularly tricky for the hard of hearing. Hearing loop systems offer a straightforward solution to this issue, making it very easy for individuals with hearing aids to experience sermons, movies, live shows, and other oral presentations without distraction.
Hearing loop systems work together with the telecoil feature found in many hearing aids. Originally, the telecoil feature was used primarily to pick up on magnetic signals created by telephones. This allowed the wearer to easily listen to telephone conversations without distraction from background noise. Hearing loop systems use this same concept but on a larger scale, creating magnetic signals that anyone in the area with a telecoil can pick up on.
A hearing loop system has several components, starting with some type of audio input (usually from a dedicated microphone feed or a public address system). The input travels into a hearing loop amplifier, which then drives a current through one or several cables that are looped around the venue. If the technicians who install the hearing loop system do their jobs correctly, anyone wearing a telecoil-equipped hearing aid will be able to hear the transmitted sounds clearly wherever they are in the room, without any “drop-out” or “dead spots”.
While newer technology such as FM transmission neck loops are becoming more established among many establishments, hearing loop systems can still offer a number of advantages to the hard of hearing. These systems are very convenient for patrons whose hearing aids have a telecoil feature, allowing them to visit any properly equipped venue without worrying about their ability to hear. They are also a much more subtle solution than neck loops and other paraphernalia, allowing patrons to enjoy a movie, concert, or worship service without embarrassment.
Though no hearing technology is perfect, hearing loop systems offer a huge service to many people, giving many listeners a much more enjoyable experience.