When you consider the fact that millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss, often called the “invisible disability,” it’s no wonder that more and more technology is emerging to help people hear better. While hearing aids on their own do a fine job of amplifying sound on an individual basis, they’re not so good at filtering out background sound in crowded public areas or within meetings. This is where the hearing loop comes in. They can boost the listening experience for users with hearing aids, thanks to cables and telecoils that allow the user to hear detailed conversations without all the distraction that comes with background noise. Two centuries ago saw the emergency of “state of the art” hearing trumpets; well, how far we’ve come! Within conference room meetings, congregational gatherings and public spots, those with hearing impairments can now better pick up on what’s going on.
What Are Hearing Loops?
Quite simply, they are cables that are laced through a room with signals that are picked up on by individual hearing aids. Mixing the technologies from hearing aids and that of cables, these loops make use of a cable running throughout a building or a room. They work off the hearing aids worn by hearing impaired participants in the room. Both parts transmit ambient sounds, making for an easier, crisper listening experience.
A Closer Look
Because most hearing aids and cochlear implants contain a t-switch that is integral to hearing aids and remote telecoil technology, this switch can detect the electromagnetic sounds funneling through the hearing loop. This then allows the user to detect sounds more clearly and with fewer background noises. The result? A better ability to hear in crowded, noisy situations. Even microphones can be brought into the equation for enhanced performance.
The basic mechanism involved in hearing loops, uncovered years of research in terms of telephone technology, is quite simple. Circling the room, a hearing loop wire transmits ambient sound in the form of electromagnetic signals that are detected by telecoil. This special telecoil, present in most modern hearing aids, was originally used in assisting handset telephones retain their ranges and signals while disconnected from the base.
This increased prevalence on the effectiveness of hearing loops has been a clear advantage to the hearing impaired community. You may even have noticed the emergence of this capability in city halls, conference rooms and in public transportation areas like subways, airports and train stations. This next phase for hearing aid technology will assist people with hearing loss enjoy an easier way to focus on clearer conversation.