Frequently Asked Questions
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, there are more than 36 million Americans with hearing loss, 10 percent of the U.S. Population. Additionally, a study lead by Johns Hopkins researchers estimates that 1 in 5 Americans 12 and older, some 48 million people, has a hearing loss, while 1 in 8 Americans has a hearing loss in both ears.
1. Why are hearing loops needed? Don’t hearing aids and cochlear implants enable hearing?
Today’s digital hearing aids effectively enhance hearing in conversational settings. Yet, for many people with hearing loss, the sound becomes inaudible and unclear when live speakers or recorded broadcasts are at a distance.
A hearing loop electromagnetically transfers sound signals directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants equipped with a telecoil (t-coil). Sounds are heard clearly in the hearing aids because the hearing loop reduces or cuts out background noise.
2. Can hearing loops serve those without telecoils or without hearing aids or cochlear implants?
Yes, hearing loops come with portable receivers and headsets for those who do not have telecoil-equipped hearing aids. You will still benefit by the reduced background noise and will have less sound distortion. Speech clarity will allow less listening fatigue on the user.
3. What does a hearing loop cost?
Loops systems vary in cost, depending on the size and construction of the room. Small installations may cost $2500-$4500. Typical installations cost for larger venues such as auditoriums, senior centers, churches, etc. are $5000 -$35,000. A large performing art center may cost $100,000 – $150,000.
4. Hearing loops harness magnetic energy. So, is magnetic interference problematic?
There are two concepts to consider: 1) Magnetic interference caused by the room loop itself; 2) Stray electromagnetic interference (EMI) in the room caused by other sources that can interfere with the use of telecoils worn by the listeners.
Hearing loops emit a magnetic field which can create potential for interference with electronic equipment. However, if the loop is installed correctly (meeting international standards (IEC 60118-4) this will be avoided. Stray EMI is caused by old (non-flat) computer monitors, old fluorescent lighting, old dimmer switches, transformers, and motors. This EMI has the potential to adversely affect the ability of the telecoil receiver to receive a good signal from the loop. It can cause distortion that will be heard when the telecoil is active. (This can also happen using a telecoil with a hearing-aid-compatible phone.) Interference-free installation is nearly always possible if done correctly and adhering to standards.
5. Isn’t this decades old technology?
Like electronic computers, magnetic induction loop technology began more than half a century ago. However, it enjoys a new form with new amplifier technology and new computer-modeled designs for complex installations.
6 Can hearing loops be used in adjacent rooms?
Yes, with professional design that controls sound spillover.
7. Are there advantages to using hearing loops for home TV listening and in public settings?
A hearing aid or cochlear implant compatible loop system delivers sound that is customized to individual listener needs. Listeners with properly activated and programmed (by the audiologist) features in their hearing aid or cochlear implant will enjoy two ways of listening with the loop: Telecoil (T) only position or Microphone plus Telecoil (M+T). Telecoil only is desired when the listener wants to hear only what is coming through the loop and not the outside world. M+T becomes important when the listener wants to hear his or her companions or other important sounds such as a doorbell or a phone ringing. It also allows the listener to hear and monitor his or her own voice. This is especially important for people with more severe hearing loss. The main advantage to using a hearing loop system is that all the listener needs to do is activate the telecoil. There is no extra equipment required.
8. Can hearing loops work in transient venues such as airports, ticket windows and drive-up order stations? How do you know if the venue is looped?
The New York City Transit Authority, for example, has installed hearing loops at 488 subway information booths. Again, all the listener needs to do is switch the hearing aid or cochlear implant to the telecoil mode. The hearing loop logo that displays the blue ear symbol along with the wording “Hearing Loop in Operation” should be posted and in clear sight for the listener to be alerted that the booth is equipped to be used with instrument telecoils.
9. What if the loop does not seem to be working?
Like any technology, systems require periodic checking. If properly installed and checked, hearing loops require little or no maintenance to work reliably. The listener also needs to periodically check that the t-coil function on the hearing aid or cochlear implant is operating efficiently and programmed according to user needs.