When a hearing aid user attempts to listen to a speaker in a crowded place, the levels of background noise can easily become overwhelming. Large, open areas such as audotoriums, places of worship, concert halls and movie theaters can be particularly troublesome. Fortunately hearing loop systems make it possible for people wearing hearing aids to readily focus on the sounds they want to hear – presentations, sermons, movie dialogue, and music – without any undesirable distractions.
Hearing loop systems take advantages of the telecoil feature that is included in most hearing aids. Telecoils were originally designed to pick up on the magnetic fields created by coils within 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.
The first part of a hearing loop system is an audio input, often from a PA system or a dedicated microphone feed. This audio signal is fed into a hearing loop amplifier, which drives a current through a cable (or series of cables) looped around the room. 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”.
Despite the fact that several newer technologies like FM transmission neck loops are being installed in public and private venues, traditional audio loop systems continue to offer several unique benefits. Their convenience alone makes them a popular choice among venues and patrons alike. 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.
While hearing loop systems require some initial investment in terms of equipment and set-up, they are a proven way for venue owners and managers to offer a high-quality listening experience to as many visitors as possible.