Hearing aids can provide a new sense of freedom to those with hearing loss. Hearing aids make everyday conversation more enjoyable; make watching movies less of a burden, and makes interpreting our environment more natural (see What to Know About Hearing Aids). As technology has progressed, hearing aid uses have become more varied and available in numerous ways. For example, hearing aid phone compatibility is at an all time high, which gives people numerous options to obtain the features they need or want. However, for some people, hearing aids alone are sometimes not enough.
Hearing aids transmit sound from the environment into your ears, but sometimes these devices struggle to pick up the right sound due to sound interference. Hearing aids do not have depth perception, meaning they amplify all noises equally. In a crowded lecture hall, church, or auditorium, hearing aids might amplify the voices and sounds of the audience over the person speaking, making it difficult to comprehend a stage performance or speech.
The “Hearing Loop” is a new technology that is being installed in classrooms, churches, libraries, and performance auditoriums across North America. This technology uses a small wire that circles the room and connects to a sound system. The loop transmits the sound electromagnetically. The electromagnetic signal is transmitted first from the microphone to the loop, and then from the loop to the telecoil in the hearing aid or cochlear implant. This direct transmission of audio eliminates background noise pickup and sound interference, improving comprehension and clarity.
To use a hearing loop, turn on the telecoil by simply flipping on the T-switch on the hearing aid or cochlear implant. No additional equipment or receiver is necessary unless your hearing aid does not have a telecoil. If your hearing aid does not have a telecoil, you may need a headset plugged into a loop receiver. Find out if your library has hearing loop technology by asking an employee or by looking for a hearing loop symbol.
“Personal loops” – loops that are worn around the neck – are also available on the market if your classroom or auditorium does not have hearing loop technology installed. These can be especially helpful for use in places such as a public movie theatre.