What is a Hearing Loop?
You may have seen the signs in the airport, a theater, a church, a courtroom, or some other large venue. Or perhaps your audiologist mentioned that feature of your hearing aids. What did they say about it? How does it work?
A loop, sometimes called an audio induction loop, is a sound system that meets the requirements of the ADA law (American’s Disability Act).
A hearing aid set to the “T” setting receives a wireless electromagnetic signal from the hearing induction loop. Or a device that has a T-coil, such as a “loop listener”, a pocket talker, or a Personal Sound Amplifier (PSAP). The components of a Hearing Loop contain a microphone, an amplifier, and the special wire that goes around a specific venue area (such as a church, or a courtroom) that acts as an antenna to radiate the signal to the aid. When the speaker talks into the mic, it goes to the amplifier which sends the signal via the copper wire. Your personal hearing aid T-Coil picks up an electromagnetic signal sent out by the copper wire. And voila, the sound is clear and crisp right in your ears.
You may ask, If I already have a hearing aid, why do I need to use a loop?
There are many benefits for the user of the loop. Firstly, it is easy to use and wasn’t invented yesterday. It is a tried and true technology that has stood the test of time for a long period. Once you enter a space that has a loop, just switch your device to the telecoil program and you will automatically hear a clear and customized sound.
The sound streams directly into your device, ensuring high quality with no background noise. It is customized by your unique hearing device. Also, it is discreet. All you have done is change into your T-Coil program on your hearing aid/device via a push-button/switch or via the app on your cell phone.
When in the loop, you only need your T coil; no additional equipment is required. No need to worry about the cleanliness of that equipment between uses. If you don’t have a t-coil in your hearing aid, ask for a loop listener from the venue. If the venue doesn’t have a loop listener, purchasing a device just for the loop is not expensive. We are happy to talk to you about low-cost devices for use in a hearing loop.
Many things can be looped; in fact anything that can plug into a 3.5 jack. You could plug in your MP3 player, a phone, an iPad, computer, even a stethoscope.
Lastly, you can add the hearing loop to a variety of spaces. From meeting rooms to the courtroom, to places of worship, theaters, airports, countertops, and even homes. We have a faithful t-coil patient who even looped his car. One of our patients looped her living room.
The options are near limitless.
One of our patients wanted to encourage her house of worship to install a loop system as it planned renovation. The space was large and often used as a concert hall. The problem was, she had difficulty hearing. Another wanted her local theater to invest in a system. She was looking forward to the play but then could hardly hear the actors. It is so frustrating to purchase tickets, look forward to an evening of entertainment, only to have it ruined because you could not hear. Our fantastic MSP airport has looped all of the international travel areas because Europeans expect loops in the terminals.
In St. Louis Park, MN we have lots of loops. Our City Hall meeting rooms, the JCC theater, and some churches are some examaples. In Hopkins, MN the City hall council chambers are also looped. If you are in Minnesota and want to get involved join Loop Minnesota. Click here for more information.
That all sounds very interesting, but what happens if my hearing aid does not have telecoil capabilities. Can I still use a loop? Yes, you can use a telecoil-equipped streamer, a personal amplifier, or special devices with or without a smartphone app. Feel free to contact us at Hears to U, Audiology, and Hearing and Hearables and we will help direct you in the right path. If you have a significant hearing loss, be careful not to buy a mild amplifier as it won’t be enough gain for you to hear well through the device and the Hearing loop. Check-in with your audiologist as they will help you.
So get in the Loop! We promise it is a Wow listening experience.