Let’s loop America!

Hearing loops broadcast sound from a sound source wirelessly to hearing aids. All users need to do is switch their hearing aid to the telecoil or Mic + telecoil mode.  Hearing loops provide phenomenal hearing in situations where poor acoustics, reduced word discrimination and auditory processing problems would have made understanding nearly impossible. For a sound demo in and out of a hearing loop – Listen here

If you would like to learn more about bringing hearing loops to your community feel free to post questions or remarks.  The goal of this blog is to inform and bring those interested together to help loop one community at a time.

Juliette Sterkens, AuD – Audiologist 
HLAA National Hearing Loop Advocate

 

I recently received a letter from an audiologist asking for help to find funding for a hearing loop in a church.  Here is how I would recommend he/she go about this.

Form a hearing loop committee – number of members is less important than the willingness of the committee members to make this happen by reaching out to church members and into the community.

It is my experience that members of the church should be asked first. They have a vested interest that all members are able to hear. Stories abound on the web how congregations made this happen. Often, members in the congregation will step up to pay for a loop but, not until after the congregation is educated about why people with hearing loss/hearing aid users need this kind of assistive listening technology.

A short article in the church bulletin will go long way in this education process. Explain that hearing loss does not only affect the ability to hear select or soft sounds (such as speech sounds) but that hearing loss often affects the person’s ability to understand speech. And while hearing aids have come a long way to improve the loss of audibility they do not give the user normal hearing. In places where sound has to travel over distance, or where it is affected by reverberation, hearing aid users complain. That is where an assistive listening system such a hearing loop can be of great help.

Explain that a hearing loop broadcasts the sounds picked up by the sound system, already in use in most churches, and via tiny ripples in the magnetic field sends the signals directly to the telecoil found in many hearing aids and in all cochlear implants.  For those who do not own hearing aids small listening boxes with headphones are available and, soon, consumers will be able to link into the wireless hearing loop signal by plugging special telecoil equipped headphones into their smart phone.

Another source of support and/or funding might be the local hearing care professional or audiologist. They likely see parishioners from the church and perhaps they are willing to make a contribution towards the loop at the church – you never know until you ask! They could be instrumental in the awareness of the hearing loop by educating their clients in the privacy of their offices.  Offer a copy of an article titled  Roadmap to a Looped Community written for providers published in the Audiology Today Magazine.

Several churches iEnvelope2n my area were successful in their fund raising efforts by inserting a special envelope in
the bulletin soliciting for donations towards the “Hearing Loop Fund” and by leaving a stack of these envelopes in the back of the church. (See image on the right. )

The hearing loop fund raising kick-off can be made more effective if accompanied by a personal verbal appeal from the pulpit by hearing aid using parishioners as it helps to put a face to this often overlooked need in the church.

Before an appeal is made it is important that a quote (or better yet, two quotes) for a hearing loop install are obtained from local reputable hearing loop installers.  Read the www.hearingloop.org/How_to_purchase_loop_your_facility  handout. Look for installers on this national (though not exhaustive) list of loop installers. It is important to vet installers’ qualifications and be sure to check out two or three references.  I know several loop installers who will travel around the country to help with loop installations.  Email me if you have questions about this process or are unable to find an installer.

Where else to find funding for a hearing loop?  Some church denominations have access to a foundation. For example, the United Methodist Church Foundation, the United Church (of Christ) Funds, The Unitarian Universalist Funding Program as do many Catholic Dioceses. These foundations have been known to offer matching grants to “strengthen their institutions.”  Email me if you would like to know what kind of wording others have used to make such an appeal.

If this is the first hearing loop in a town/city and if the loop committee would like to make the church a shining example of hearing access done right, a local Community Foundation might be willing to support the loop. PR ideas include: sending a news release to the paper, doing an interview for the newspaper, talk about the loop on local Community TV, or writing an article in the church denomination’s state or regional magazine. Make an appointment to talk to the foundation’s director to explain about the hearing loop.

Doing a short PowerPoint presentation to a local Rotary (Lions, Kiwanis or Sertoma) club s another good way to find “movers and shakers” in an area.  There is no right or wrong way… what works in Oshkosh WI may not work in Littleton, CO and vice versa. Email me for a short PPT slideshow.

It is my experience that money is rarely the issue. When objections are raised it is usually because the benefits of the loop are not really understood and further explanations are needed. (Some AV professionals have been known to lobby for FM systems with neck loops as being much more economical and “just as beneficial.” (Experience has shown that these systems usually end up sitting in the back of the church. Unused.) Email me if you run into roadblocks like this. I am happy to help.TFWM

A visit with the minister,
priest or rabbi and/or the church council is usually the best way to start.  Share a copy of the Technology for Worship Magazine reprint, play an “in” vs. “out” of the loop audio demonstration , and share a couple of testimonials. And, in closing, ask if everyone doesn’t deserve to hear the Word like Dorothy?


I used to clap when others clapped. I used to laugh when others laughed,
though I usually didn’t hear what it was about. Now I hear every word in church.
I absolutely love the hearing loop. 

 

 

 

 

Consumers with hearing loss around the country should be interested in bills introduced in New Mexico (Senate Bill SB70 and House Bill HB70) that would mandate hearing care providers educate potential hearing aid purchasers on the information offered to allow the client to make an informed decision as to what hearing aid device to purchase.

These bills are being demanded by educated consumers who, once they find out how telecoils are essential to hear in public venues equipped with assistive listening systems mandated by the ADA, are upset they were not told about the telecoil when they first consulted their audiologist or hearing aid dispenser.

 

Some hearing care professionals label telecoils as “old” or analog technology and mention only Bluetooth technology.  Yet, once these consumers become educated, they perceive their hearing care provider as only out to sell hearing aids, and not feel responsible or be concerned about the well being and overall functioning of their clients in public venues.

Hearing Loops are amazingly beneficial to consumers.  This was demonstrated in a recent survey published in Hearing Review where 866 people were asked to rate the performance of their hearing aids or cochlear implants using a 10-point scale. The average response was 4.9 in a non-looped setting and 8.7 in a looped environment.

Until a newer universal, easy to use, good sounding, and affordable assistive listening technology becomes available around the country (and the world for that matter) telecoil technology will continue to be used as the universal technology that allows consumers access to important information and speech in places where hearing aids and cochlear implants are unable to deliver.  Loop technology is widely used in Europe (in taxi cabs, theaters, opera houses, ticket windows, trains and airports) and thanks to Dr. Dave Myers’and many other advocates’, efforts are spreading in the USA www.hearingloop.org. Please note that these efforts are not for hearing loops perse, but for directly hearing aid compatible assistive technology.

Hearing Loss Association of America members (www.hearingloss.org) who run volunteer consumer support groups around the country find time and time again that:

  1. Telecoils are not activated (how does a provider know that a client will not travel to places that offer loops, attend a looped Broadway theater or be present in a looped church for a wedding and could have benefited from an activated telecoil?)
  2. Consumers were dissuaded to purchase a hearing aid with a telecoil
  3. Few providers offer a hearing loop in their waiting room (or a neck loop connected to a Pocketalker) to demonstrate the benefits of the telecoil or make it part of their ROUTINE counseling practice.
  4. Even fewer providers have ever listened to assistive devices themselves or used a hearing loop in a public venue.

It is educated and passionate consumers who are now pushing for these consumer protection laws.  Yet, some hearing care providers as well as professional organizations are working against them. In New Mexico for example the New Mexico Speech Language and Hearing Association professionals are using arguments that people with severe to profound hearing losses do not benefit from the technology, hearing loops are not available to the user or that alternative technologies could be more effective. Perhaps they didn’t read the Hearing Review study. Imagine being sold a car but never been told it comes equipped with a headlight switch that allows driving in the dark?

Hearing impaired consumers need protection alright – protection from providers who do not educate consumers when they are making a very costly purchase.

Given the gravity of the needs of people with hearing loss and having personally seen thousands of consumers react with joy about the benefits of a simple telecoil in a hearing loop I would think providers and the hearing industry should jump on the opportunity to put hearing aids in a good light to give clients understanding in places where they know hearing aids and implants are unable to deliver.  Some proactive hearing aid manufacturers such as Unitron already have.

If you are a consumer, please join the grassroots hearing loop movement and invite your hearing care professional to get with our efforts to “Loop America”. Tell your provider it will change the way they practice hearing health care, that their efforts will result in delighted clients and that they will benefit professionally in the process.

Send your audiologist/hearing care provider to  www.loopwisconsin.com, suggest they watch this webinar or better yet – give them my email address jsterkens@new.rr.com and I will contact them and offer my personal and practical support.

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newspaper2-flatI wrote this blog in response to an article on how one person, Melissa Corson is making a difference in her community of Tallahassee: How More Americans With Hearing Loss Get to Hear Again – Tallahassee Magazine – January-February 2015.

Kudos to Melissa Corson (www.facebook.com/melissa.b.corson?fref=ts) from www.facebook.com/TallyENT?pnref=story who has been working hard advocating for hearing loops in her community. It is great that her efforts are paying off. Way to go Melissa and the Doctors of  Audiology at Tallahassee ENT!

Notice how it is always audiologists who are not involved with looping who make unhelpful comments about telecoils and hearing loops not having kept up with the current technology? What does Dr. Nathan Rhodes  audiologist at South Georgia Audiology and Hearing Services   know about the IEC 60118-4, the International Hearing Loop Standard and how it seamlessly works with telecoils in today’s hearing aids? How loops can improve the signal-to-noise ratio on the order of 15-to-25 dB? And that even some of the smallest instruments can be equipped with a telecoil? Does he know that some makes such as Widex, Oticon and Siemens offer telecoils in streamers and/or remote controls?

A recent study has clearly demonstrated just how beneficial the loops are to hearing aid and cochlear implant users in places where their devices (even those fit by Dr. Rhodes) are simply unable to deliver. These limitations are nobody’s fault – just a limitation of the microphones and distance (something that even the most advanced hearing devices are unable to overcome), the severity of hearing loss and speech recognition of the users. Limitations that the studies by Dr. Sergei Kochkin’s  have been shown to hearing care professionals for years. I also wonder how many hearing loops Dr. Rhodes fostered in his community before the advent of Bluetooth. Doesn’t everyone deserve to hear well in their favorite theater, meeting room or House of Worship?  I can guarantee that Dr. Rhodes’ patients will love him for it.  

A few references that might be helpful to professionals as they explore the grassroots hearing loop movement that hearing device users are so pleased about:

LoopWisconsinI am happy to support any hearing care provider or consumer who is looking to foster loops in their community. If my efforts and those of many consumers in Wisconsin can lead to 450 hearing loops in nearly 6 years imagine what a concerted effort by hearing care providers and consumers would do for hearing accessibility in the country.

I am only an email away:  jsterkens@hearingloss.org


Recently I received a letter (in Danish mind you) from an experienced cochlear implant user who describes her personal experience with Cochlear’s new Loop Booster accessory. Thanks to Google Translate and Janni, the writer of the letter, I was able to translate it so that English speaking CI users can read about her Loop Booster experience.

Full disclosure: Janni Glæsner is the past president of the Danish Adult Cochlear Implant Association CIF http://cochlearimplant.dk/ and is currently is employed by Danaflex, the Danish distributor of Cochlear Products.

Johannes Kirke

The Johannes Church in Greve, DK offers a hearing loop for hearing device users. Like nearly all churches in Scandinavia

 

And the Noise Disappeared…

I don’t have to use a hearing loop often with my cochlear implant processors, but recently I was a confirmation at the Johannes Church in Greve Denmark and needed to turn on my telecoil to follow the sermon. I heard what I nearly always hear when I turn the telecoils my Cochlear CP810 processor on: a hum and crackling and my head orientation affects the loop signal strength.  Now, this noise doesn’t really bother me as it will not drown out the speech I want to hear. The crackle is just there, like the humming of a heating system or a fan. So if I think the sound is a bit too far away and requires me to pay very close attention to hear, such as at a lecture,  I use the telecoil, where possible.

A few weeks ago I learned of a new product from Cochlear called a Loop Booster. The Loop Booster is externally mounted on my Cochlear Implant device replacing the internal telecoil in the processor. The Loop Booster is larger and is said to improve the reception of sound through an induction loop system. Well, this aroused my curiosity!  Could a Loop Booster, I wondered, dampen – or perhaps even eliminate the hum and crackling I hear when using a  loop system? It was time for another visit to Johannes Church. So last Sunday I made the trek back to church to attend the All Saints Service.

I found a place discreetly on one of the back rows and settled in with a hymnal, my implant’s remote control and two Loop Boosters. Let the experiment begin!

loop Booster only

Loop Booster Attachment

My first thought turned to the loop system itself. Would it be turned on for the service? It sure was. But, as soon as I turned my processors’ telecoils on, the familiar hum and crackling appeared and when I moved my head the voice of the minister faded and the hum became even worse. It was time to attach the Loop Boosters on both processors. What happened next was amazing: The humming and crackling noise disappeared … and the sound was louder and clearer. It was as if an audio cable was connected from the microphone in the church to my processors. And when I moved my head, the signal did not disappear like it did when I used the built in telecoils. I also did not need to fine-tune using my remote control like I had to in the past.  The sound was clear and bright, just like I like! Wow!

Loop Booster

Cochlear CP810 Processor with the Loop Booster attached

Janni 2

Janni Glæsner

Because I have heard that other CI users have problems with noise when they use the processor’s telecoils I am sharing this experience with you, and am curious as to whether the Loop Booster works for others.
Signed: Janni Glæsner 

PS: Readers of this blog may want to know that Janni lives in Denmark where, fortunately for all telecoil equipped hearing aids and all cochlear implants users, hearing loops are common place.  She uses Cochlear Model 5 CP810’s in both ears, but told me that the Loop Booster can also be used for the Nucleus Model 6 CP 910 processors. Janni and I would love to hear from other users of the Loop Booster. Janni can be reached via her Facebook page www.facebook.com/janni.glaesner?fref=ts and I can be reached at jsterkens@new.rr.com

Kudos to Cochlear for listening to its customers.
A few years back, many cochlear implant users complained that the older Freedom processors with their vertically positioned telecoils had better hearing loop reception than the newer Nucleus devices whose telecoils were mounted horizontally. It is nice to know the company took these complaints seriously and developed this new telecoil attachment. Telecoils can dramatically enhance the cochlear implant user’s hearing experience in public venues that offer hearing loops as shown in a recently published study in the October 2014 Hearing Review

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People who have had normal hearing but acquired hearing loss later in life have the advantage of remembering speech the way it used to sound and access to a large vocabulary to piece together what they hear with an imperfect auditory system.  Children with hearing loss don’t have that advantage. Their speech and language is still developing. A hearing loop can give them an advantage by providing access to clear sound input that hearing aids and/or cochlear implants alone simply are unable to provide unless their ears were mere inches away from the speakers on the TV.  A loop in effect brings the speaker of the TV directly and wirelessly into their ears. Voila – clear sound that may allow them to hear TV better than their parents!

In a recent article in the AG Bell Volta Voices Magazine (http://www.loopwisconsin.com/PDFFiles/VoltaVoicesSterkens.pdf)  I explain why some children need more than their hearing devices, be they hearing aids or cochlear implants, to develop speech and language. While hearing devices help to make sound louder, the instruments may not provide enough clarity and understanding to let children carve meaning out of what was heard.  Distance, background noise and reverberation all affect the speech clarity negatively and for this reason audiologists recommend the use of a personal FM system in the class room and there is plenty of research to back this up.

While children are busy developing speech and language they need access to best speech clarity there is to be had. Imagine learning to speak French while in a busy café near the Champs-Élysées in Paris or while watching a fast speaking Spanish speaker on TV.  This would be difficult even for a normal hearing adult – let alone for children whose vocabulary is limited and whose auditory systems do not permit clear and concise speech understanding no matter what type of hearing instrument or cochlear implant they wear.  This is where a hearing loops can be of great benefit in the home.

While most parents do not want their children to be hanging in front of the TV for long hours, that children will watch TV any chance they get is a given. (Mine did and, despite my worries, turned out just fine!) So why not ensure that what children with hearing loss hear is of the best clarity there is to get in a TV hearing loop?   Several parents and children have commented on what a loop in their TV room did for them. They say it better than I ever could. (I am sharing this information with their permission.)


What children say about hearing loops:

“Ever since our T.V. has been connected to the loop, I have loved it! It makes my listening so much easier because I can now fully understand conversations on the shows and hear sounds that I would not be able to hear without the loop.” said Anna Blair, a 14 year old and bilateral CI user. Her brother Adam, age 8 who also uses cochlear implants agrees with her. He says he likes listening in the loop because it “puts the sounds right inside my head, and it’s easier to hear”, and (with a huge smile) explained that his favorite shows to watch on TV with the loop are “action shows” because “when all the sounds are ‘in my head,’ it makes me feel like I’m in the middle of it all.”

Their mother Laura Garmon Sarsfield, a member of the Georgia Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons https://dhs.georgia.gov/gchidp-members ,  reports that her children both very much love the idea of the loop being able to bypass all the background noise and deliver the TV audio directly to their cochlear implants.  “As a family we can listen to the TV without having to increase the volume and have confidence that they aren’t missing a thing because they are hearing everything completely and easily through the loop.  It has definitely been a game-changer for them, even though they are both very successful CI users who are both “A students” in their mainstream classroom settings in the largest public school system in Georgia.  I just can’t say enough about how much the loop has helped them.  It has just eased their listening so they are able to relax and enjoy it, and not have to work so hard just to hear and follow it”.

Ellie, age 12 who uses one hearing aid for a mild hearing loss because she is deaf in the other ear explains that using the loop the sound is clear and that she can hear every single word while without the loop “I only hear the loudest sounds of the TV.” And the loop has one more benefit; she doesn’t have to listen to the annoying sounds of her brothers! Ellie’s first TV loop experience was posted on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5OiqHyW7vw  as was Jill Villnow, Ellie’s mom emotional response to the benefits of loops for her daughter see  www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jL4x2kkAJ0

Josie, age 12, who has a bilateral moderate degree of hearing loss and uses bilateral hearing aids, says:  “I don’t have to have the sound turned up so loud or use captions. The clarity is so much better; you can actually understand and hear the voices.” Her sister Emily, who is 11 and also uses BTEs ads, “I like it better because the loop blocks out the background noise so I can hear the TV better.”

The parents of Josie and Emily, Jim and Vicki Denzin from Neenah WI add a warning for parents. One of the first evenings after they installed a TV loop, their girls kept laughing and giggling and would not settle down in their beds. It was then they found out the TV loop signal from the adult movie they were watching downstairs could still clearly be heard in the bedrooms upstairs as long as the telecoil in the hearing aids were on. They now make sure the TV loop amplifier is turned off when the girls go to bed!

 Where else can children benefit from hearing loops?

That is easy:  Anywhere a microphone is used and the ADA mandates that reasonable accommodations are made for

The children's Museum in Fort Collins has installed a  hearing loop in its Dome Theater.

The children’s Museum in Fort Collins has installed a hearing loop in its Dome Theater.

people with hearing loss such as high school or middle auditoriums, Houses of Worship, museums and movie theaters.  Who is going to install these hearing loops? Trained installers now found around the country. Many of whom can be found on www.hearingloop.org under vendors. Who is going to make sure that hearing loops are the “go to” hearing assist technology? That is where we need to get involved and work together as advocates for everyone who uses hearing devices:  Hearing care professionals, hearing aid and cochlear implant users, hearing loop installers and advocates, hearing aid and cochlear implant companies,  parents and family members of children with hearing loss and everyone who works in the ADA community https://adata.org/ and http://www.access-board.gov/the-board/laws/americans-with-disabilities-act-intro . Our mantra should be “No Decision About People with Hearing Loss – Without Them”.

Adults who have experienced the three different assistive listening technologies prefer will choose hearing loop technology over FM or Infra-Red systems nearly 9 to 1 see http://www.loopwisconsin.com/PDFFiles/LoopingStudy_Oct_HR2014.pdf.  It is easy to understand why: All a user needs to hear in a loop is a personal hearing aid or CI and the ability to activate the telecoil. While it is true many children may not have experienced a hearing loop based on the comments from pediatric loop users listed above, anecdotal evidence of adults consumers who have both used Bluetooth wireless and loops at home, the recently published study in the Hearing Reviewhttp://www.hearingreview.com/2word014/09/consumer-perceptions-impact-inductively-looped-venues-utility-hearing-devices/  and a small study in Denmark by Aida Poulsen Regal www.cfh.dk/Do_school_chn_with_hearing_loss_have_preferences_for_ FM_or_loops?.pdf  this choice is likely not any different for them.

The OtterBox  Digital Dome at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is now fully accessible for children (and adults!) with hearing loss.

The OtterBox Digital Dome at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is now fully accessible for children (and adults!) with hearing loss.

As the HLAA Hearing Loop Advocate, what I am doing in my home state of Wisconsin, in the country and beyond is not just promoting loops.  I am foremost raising awareness and improving the understanding of hearing loss.  By explaining what hearing loss is, how hearing aids help but have significant limitations especially for those with more severe loss, and in reverberant and noisy larger public places (and yes professionals need to hear this message too) and how hearing loops can provide seamless access much like wheelchair ramps do for people with mobility handicaps, I build the case for hearing loops.

FM and Infrared assistive technology were and are a solution for hearing access but not a seamless solution. FM and IR devices are a hassle and rarely excite folks like loops do.  Hearing aid users have to go out of their way to use FM/IR, hearing aid users have to self-identify to find these devices only to find out they malfunction, and are like Richard Einhorn says – are just not a dignified solution… more an afterthought.  And many of us have found that the typical hearing aid user (the people who sit in the typical audiology and HA offices, the ones who are not likely to join HLAA even when given membership materials) will not bother using FM or IR devices.

Hearing loops, I have found, are very much used and appreciated by the typical non-HLAA member hearing aid users. Knowing about hearing loop technology also spurns action by normal hearing folks and thanks to them many loops are being installed in houses of worship, retirement centers and libraries. Once the loops are in the response from the users is often overwhelmingly positive, emotional and accompanied with lot of smiles. All this of course reinforces that the loop installation was the right thing to do.

Looped waiting room in audiology office

Looped waiting room in audiology office

But…in order to benefit, consumers need telecoils in their instruments.   It is unfortunate that hearing loop advocates like myself,  continue to run into far too many consumers around my state and the country who were never informed or never demonstrated how the telecoil can wirelessly link into the hearing loop.

How can we increase the number of hearing aids that are equipped with telecoils? It foremost means raising awareness of the benefit of telecoils. I have heard some anecdotal evidence that this positive word of mouth thanks to nearly 300 hearing loops in Wisconsin is increasing the number of consumers who know about t-coils.  I hear from hearing aid manufacturer’s reps that Wisconsin hearing aid providers now routinely inquire about telecoils in new products. And it is not just consumers who benefit. I recently received an email from a minister in Oshkosh thanking me for educating her on telecoils. The minister was confident when she counseled one of her parishioners on the kind of hearing aid features to consider. Her advice was confirmed with big smiles and thanks you’s when he used the loop for the first time after following her advice.  Awareness would also increase if audiologists and dispensers would loop their waiting rooms. In the Fox Valley many providers have taken this step – see here and here

That telecoils are an important feature in hearing aids was recently endorsed by the Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Wisconsin. The  Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing proclaimed that all consumers need to be told about telecoils before ordering hearing aids.  I would think it would better yet for consumers in Wisconsin if WSHA , the Wisconsin Speech, Language and Hearing Association for audiologists and speech, language pathologists, as well as WAHP, the Wisconsin Alliance of Hearing Professionals, would go on record recommending the same.  These professionals are licensed by the State of Wisconsin to provide hearing healthcare that is in the best interest of consumers.  Together we could strengthen consumer protection for consumers with hearing loss and support a similar law Arizona recently passed.

The Arizona law mandates telecoil counseling for potential hearing aid clients by audiologists and hearing instrument specialists. A similar law in Wisconsin would certainly make it less likely that I encounter hearing aid users who were never told about the telecoil benefits even though they followed the costly recommendations of the professional licensed by the state of Wisconsin. Without telecoils consumers are unable to benefit from hearing loops nor can they use  all kind of other assistive technology that requires a telecoil such as the new ClearSounds Quattro. Consumers deserve better than to be left out of the (hearing) loop.

Recently my church, St. Raphael Catholic Church in Oshkosh had a hearing loop installed. A hearing loop is an assistive listening system in the form of a  wire that is installed around the seated area of a facility, in this case a house of worship, connected to the PA system.  The loop creates a magnetic signal in the seated area that hearing aids or cochlear implants equipped with telecoils can pick up wirelessly broadcast to their own ears without any background noise. Users who don’t own hearing aids with telecoils or hearing aids can use small loop listening devices to pick up the signal.

This hearing loop is installed on a temporary basis because the  loop wire could not  be installed exactly where it should be, this would have involved cutting of old, glued down carpeting,  for an optimal signal. Once the church gets recarpeted the loop wire will be put where it needs to be and the magnetic loop signal will be optimized. Yet, even with the hearing loop slightly out of spec it is helping people hear.

It was Fr. Doug LeCaptain who OK’d the installation when he realized it could be a year or two before a perfect loop could be installed and that this temporary loop would work quite well in most of the seated area.  Fr. Doug was also “nudged” at the insistence of several hard of hearing parishioners. These parishioners had experienced hearing loops in the many looped churches in and around Oshkosh (see a complete list here) and kept asking for the technology at St Raphael.

The hearing loop was announced in the bulletin and during a hearing loop dedication weekend this past August.  Vicki Denzin, a parishioner and mom of three girls, publicly thanked the congregation gathered.  Her emotion came through loud and clear when she spoke. Two of her daughters use hearing aids and the girls have extensive experience using a loop in their TV room. Vicki and her husband Jim had advocated for a loop at St Raph’s.

When people experience a hearing loop for the first time they are often overwhelmed.  I have learned there is a story behind each and every hearing loop testimonialTo capture how hearing aid users benefit from loops I am gathering hearing loop experiences with a simple survey.  To gather responses from the many local loop users I dropped some paper and pencil surveys off at twelve hearing aid offices in the Fox Valley. These survey responses are coming in. I hope to publish an article on these findings soon but in the meantime I would like to share one story.  A story that does not use many words… just the response of one hearing loop user at St. Raph’s.  (St Raphael Catholic Church). 

Hearing Loop Survey response

Prior to the hearing loop installation this user reports to hear a “2” on a scale of 1=”heard nothing” and a 10=”hear every word”. In the hearing loop this same user reports to hear a “9”. In the hearing loop the hearing aid user went from hearing nearly nothing to nearly hearing every word.  Wow! These results almost made me cry.  Who knew? Who knew but this person who sat in the pews trying to carve meaning out of the words of the service? I cannot imagine how this person felt after worshipping in a facility where hearing the homily was impossible? Why bother attending? I am sure that many others have stopped attending, because of this same problem.

With the hearing loop this hearing aid user is once again able to hear the messages that Fr. Doug so carefully prepares every Sunday, broadcast wirelessly from the loop to the telecoil in the hearing aids. Imagine hearing clear and crisp sound without any background noise straight from the sound board?  

It is possible to hear in reverberant houses of worship (and many other venues) with the use of hearing loops. This is news that deserves to be shared by clergy around the country and heard by millions of hearing aid users.  Everyone deserves to hear. 

StRaphaelloopphoto

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