Frequently Asked Questions
How Does the Induction (Hearing Loop) work?
An audio induction loop system consists of a loop of wire that is connected to an induction loop amplifier. An input signal is provided to the induction loop amplifier via microphone or direct cable input. The induction loop amplifier drives this signal through the loop of wire in the form of a strong alternating current. This current creates a magnetic field around the wire which is picked up by any telecoil equipped hearing aid positioned inside the loop wire. The hearing aid must be switched into a “telecoil only” or “microphone plus Telecoil” mode to pick up the signal. The loop is a wire which is placed around the perimeter of the room or around any other area in which the creation of the magnetic signal is desired.
Why are hearing loops good for home television and stereo use?
Television can be difficult for viewers that are hard of hearing, even when they have been fitted with new state-or-the-art digital hearing aids. Distance from the sound source, room acoustics and background noise can all interfere with intelligibility. Moreover, the viewer does not have the opportunity to have dialogue repeated and much of the conversation on television goes by very quickly. Any person with diminished speech recognition will have trouble in this type of hearing environment. As everyone has witnessed, this usually means that the hard of hearing viewer turns the volume up to uncomfortable levels in the home to better hear the television. A loop system can provide a solution to all of these issues as it isolates the sound from the television and transmits it equally into both ears through telecoil equipped hearing aids. The volume control can be set to a level that is comfortable for all listeners. Not only is the hearing aid wearer happier, other family members can sit in the same room and enjoy television again at a reasonable volume. The same scenario hold true for radio and stereo music as well.
Where else can hearing loops be utilized?
Hearing loops can be used in private homes or in larger public environments. In most public places, hard of hearing people hear the broadcast sound, but only after it has traveled some distance from a loudspeaker, reverberated off walls and gotten mixed with other room noise. Induction Loop Systems take sound straight from the source and deliver it right into the listener’s ear, drastically improving hearing in these large venues. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities require that buildings with fixed seating for 50 or more persons “have a permanently installed assertive listening system” plus signs be “installed to notify patrons.” Loops have been installed in many churches, theaters, courts and auditoriums. In addition, banks, pharmacies, or other venues where detailed information must be transmitted and understood can be terrific applications for inductive loop systems.
Why might I use a loop system instead of an infrared or FM system?
While infrared and FM products work well, there is an inherent problem for the hearing aid user in that they are required to remove their instruments (unless wearing an inductive neck loop) to put on the receiver. In the case of a loop system, the user simply has to push a button on their personal hearing device to put the device in the right program to receive clear and direct sound from the loop. More over, the user’s telecoil mode is programmed specifically for that individuals hearing loss as opposed to the broadband signal produced from “stock” receivers which are not programmed specifically for the user. Advantages loop systems have in the public venue include: no pick up or return of the receiver, they are inconspicuous, they entail no hygienic concerns and have no “bleed over” sound coming from around the headphones that might be heard by others nearby. For these reasons and more, the loop is much more preferred by the hearing aid user.
What about the all new "Streamer" type devices?
The new “streamer” type devices work great for bluetooth phone connections and some music players, but require another piece of expensive equipment that needs batteries or charging. The loop works with the hearing aid alone and is much less troublesome, and usually less expensive.
Do I have to use a certain manufacturer of hearing aids?
No. Any hearing aid or CI (cochlear Implant) that is equipped with a telecoil will work well in a looped environment.
Do loops work with auto-TVs?
Fortunately, no; otherwise the user with the auto-T would be forced to listen to the television when in the looped environment. Most hearing aids give the option of having both an auto-T and a telecoil in separate programs.
What about the hum some hear when they are in the telecoil mode?
A 60 cycle hum can be picked up in some environments and can be heard by the hearing device/loop user. This is less of a problem in Europe where the standard voltage is 222 but is still a minor concern here in America with our 110 volts and can be generated by a variety of sources. Most hearing device users are unable to perceive the hum but when hearing is very good in the low frequencies, the hum can be an issue. Most new programmable hearing aids can be adjusted to reduce the low frequencies and increase the mid range in the T-Coil program to eliminate these problems. In addition usually the source of the hum in a loop system can be identified by the installer and eliminated.
What about Bluetooth technology? Will it work?
Bluetooth technology has found its way into the hearing aid world as an add-on to a “behind the ear” hearing aid (unless coupled with an induction neck loop for users with T coils). Bluetooth has limited range (when compared to and induction loop), size concerns and excessive battery drain on the hearing aid. We, as hearing professionals, need to be open-minded and ready to adopt any new technology that is hearing aid compatible, for the end user’s quality of life will surely be improved. At this time however, induction looping remains the most cost effective and elegant solution.
Do users prefer the M/T option or just the T?
Most hearing aid users prefer to be in the M/T setting when using an induction loop. This allows them to hear the sound source (TV, bank teller, public speaker) while still being in touch with their environment. When listening to TVs, the user is able to hear clearly while still being able to hear the doorbell, the telephone or another person in the room. It is convenient, however, at times to be able to shut those sounds out and go directly to the “T” setting.