Most public places and businesses have modified their buildings for accessibility to wheelchairs, an extremely visible disability, but may not be aware of the less visible challenges faced by people who have difficulty hearing. That’s where hearing loops come in. Locations with hearing loops provide much sharper speech and sound directly to the telecoils inside hearing aids or cochlear implants. Installing a hearing loop is a fairly inexpensive improvement which can bring in new visitors and customers for the venue. If you or others find that hearing the goings-on at places you visit frequently is a difficult task, you can help instigate positive change.
Churches, mosques & synagogues. Only a few places of worship have contemporary hearing loops installed. Many don’t have any assistance for the hearing impaired. Others are using obsolete technology that is inconvenient or hard to use. If this is the case, let the congregation and worship leaders know of the benefits of a hearing loop, such as being able to push a button to customize your ability to hear the speakers clearly through your own hearing aid or implant. Outline the idea in a page of your weekly bulletin or community newsletter.
Theatres, auditoriums & athletic arenas. Assembly areas are required by the Americans for Disabilities Act guidelines to be fitted with hearing amplification systems to accommodate patrons. To promote this need, you can write to or meet with the people in charge of these public spaces and business to explain the need and benefits. Installing a hearing loop can allow the business to tap into a new segment of the population which sometimes has limited entertainment options.
Arm yourself with information. Whether you speak with the people in charge, write a letter or create a poster, it is important to share the facts to create awareness and understanding. You’ll probably need to start at the beginning by explaining what a hearing loop system is and how it works. You’ll want to have some estimated figures on cost. Inform those in charge of the benefits to you and other patrons. Make a clear business argument that increased patronage will offset the cost of installing the hearing loop. Even if they don’t engage in the idea the first time, make yourself available as a resource for further information and inquire if you can check in with them every couple of months to continue the discussion.