Florida and Michigan’s #1 Expert for Hearing Loops
What Are Hearing Loop Systems?
The technical name is Audio Frequency Induction Loop System (AFILS), but also known as:
- Loop System
- Hearing Loop System
- Hearing Loop
- Hearing Aid Loop
In its simplest form, a hearing loop utilizes a loop of wire that is installed around the room or throughout the room. That wire is then connected to a special hearing loop amplifier.
An audio signal from a microphone, TV, PA system, or sound reinforcement system is provided to the hearing loop amplifier. The hearing loop amplifier drives an audio current (note current not voltage) through the loop of wire in the form of a strong alternating current. As the alternating current from the hearing loop amplifier flows through the loop wire, it creates a magnetic field within the looped area. That field “induces” the telecoil/T-coil in a hearing instrument or specifically designed hearing loop receiver.
To use the Loop, a hearing instrument user switches their hearing aid or cochlear implant to the “T” position on the hearing instrument upon entering the room. The telecoil in the hearing instrument picks up the fluctuations in the magnetic field and converts them back into alternating currents. The alternating currents are amplified and converted by the hearing instrument into sound.
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Hear the Difference a Hearing Loop Can Make
Why Use a Hearing Loop?
There are many reasons why people with hearing loss prefer to use a hearing loop. Those who suffer from hearing loss require more than just increasing the volume of sound into their ears.
The following are some reasons and benefits of using a Hearing Loop:
- Hearing Loops will provide greater clarity than all other assistive listening system.
- Because the hearing aid or cochlear implant is the receiver, the prescriptive setting of the hearing aid provides the clearest sound possible.
- This is impossible to obtain using an FM/IR receiver and headset.
- All people with hearing loss understand there is a difference between “hearing” and “understanding”. Other assistive listening systems allow you to HEAR sound but not necessarily understand what you are hearing – Loops allow you to UNDERSTAND.
Hearing aid/cochlear implant is the receiver
- Unlike traditional FM or IR systems, which require a separate receiver and headset in order to use the system, a T-coil equipped device is the receiver.
- For those without hearing aids, a special Loop Receiver or Loop Listener is available.
- This means a person with hearing loss can continue to wear their hearing aids or cochlear implants which have a prescriptive setting specific to their personal hearing loss. As a comparison, prescriptive eye glass wearers don’t remove their eyeglasses to put on $5 reading glasses.
Improved signal to noise ratio
- The loss of hearing is generally associated with the brain’s neurological processing of information. For people with no hearing loss, a signal to noise (background noise) ratio of 6dB is required for a reasonable level of speech intelligibility. This represents quite a noisy background, and includes sounds such as reverberation, air conditioning, ventilation systems or background noise such as those associated with a crowd of people.
- When a person loses a lot of their hearing, they generally need a signal to noise ratio of 15 to 20dB for a reasonable level of speech intelligibility. This can be difficult to achieve unless the desired signal is taken straight from the basic source and transmitted directly through the hearing loop system. Delivering a pure, clean signal directly to the hearing aid maximizes the benefits of digital hearing aids and delivers the best possible sound possible to the hearing instrument user.
Reduction or elimination of background noise and reverberation
- The number one complaint of people living with hearing loss is background noise – think restaurant.
- When activating the T-coil setting in the hearing instrument, the microphone on the hearing instrument is deactivated.
- This means that the only sound that a hearing aid/cochlear implant user receives in their ear is that transmitted through the Loop System.
- This helps to eliminate reverberation or additional ambient noise.
- The T-coil is activated by pressing a button on the hearing aid, a remote control, or smart phone app.
- Most people won’t even know their contemporaries are using the system.
- Embarrassment of one’s own hearing loss is a significant issue for those considering getting hearing aids or using an assistive listening system.
- Usership increases when no external headsets are required.
Less equipment to maintain
- Since the hearing aid and cochlear implant serve as the receiver and is provided by the actual user, less receivers/headsets are required.
- The venue will not have to keep on hand, clean, and maintain as many headsets.
- This also eliminates hygiene issues as the individual users maintains their devices.
- Receivers are available to those without T-coil equipped hearing instruments. To meet ADA requirements, some receivers may be required.
Most cost efficient
- Because more people will use a Loop System compared to FM systems, there is a better per user cost ratio.
- Loops are more expensive to install initially but over the long hall, are a better investment.
EVEN IF A FACILITY HAS A FM OR INFRARED SYSTEM ALREADY INSTALLED, THEY SHOULD STILL INSTALL A LOOP SYSTEM! People have preferences of systems to use and should have the option of choosing.
Where Are Hearing Loops Used
There are two basic environments in which induction hearing loops are used: transient and extended time.
In both environments, the telecoil capability in the hearing instrument is used to listen inductively, which eliminates background noise and greatly increases speech intelligibility for the hearing instrument user.
In transient use locations it is impractical to issue and retrieve a receiver / headset due to the short or limited time of interaction or use. Unfortunately, these are often among the worst areas for problems related to speech intelligibility and background noise. These are locations like ticket windows, points of sale, bank windows, customer service desks, and pharmacies where it is one customer service agent/clerk/ticket agent communicating with one hard of hearing person. The systems used in these locations are known as ONE to ONE or 1:1.
Extended time use locations are those in which a person will be in for a longer period of time. Think house of worship, performing arts hall, meeting room, classroom, or ballroom. These are known as Area Loops or Large Area Loops. Here is it more practical to obtain a receiver but naturally the use of the hearing instrument as the receiver is preferred.
How Do You Know if a Hearing Loop System is Installed?
Hearing Loop systems are used throughout the world and there is an internationally recognizable symbol that is used to indicate to the general public that a hearing loop system is installed.
The color may vary, occasionally found in green, blue, red, and yellow, but always the basic ear shape usually with something going through it like an arrow, sound wave, and etc. Anytime this symbol is present, a person with a hearing instrument can activate their T-coil or a special receiver can be used to pick up the signal.