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Legislation Around the Nation

So far 2017 has been a busy year for legislators and advocates who have diligently worked together to ensure equal access for the deaf and hard of hearing. For many, all that hard work culminated in March with the passing of legislation.

On March 17, 2017 Governor Herbert signed HB 60 into law. With this signing, the state of Utah has made history as the first state in the nation to replace the term “hearing impaired” with “deaf and hard of hearing” throughout all Utah code. This change shows that Utah acknowledges it’s DHoH community not as something in need of a fix, but rather a rich, diverse, and proud culture. This small change speaks volumes and is paving the way for many other states to follow suit.  At last count, four more states have put forth bills to strike the term “hearing impaired” from their codes and laws as well.  We may be a bit biased, but Listen Technologies has never been more proud to be headquartered in the great state of Utah!

In other good news, New York City has taken a giant leap towards accessibility and civic engagement with the passing of Intro-882-A.  Sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Intro 882-A requires a hearing loop be installed in any city-funded building project with one or more public assembly areas. This legislation applies to all renovations or new construction with a cost of $950,000 or more.  With projects under current capital planning, this will include close to 300 venues across New York City!

“With this bill, the City of New York will ensure that more and more spaces every year will be truly accessible to those hard of hearing. Hearing loop technology makes such a radical difference in the ability of so many to participate fully in public life, and I’m proud that as a City we have moved to make it not just a priority but a requirement in our public investments. I want to thank the advocates whose hard work made this possible, educating me and other policymakers on the importance of this issue and helping us reach a path toward getting this landmark legislation passed,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

Other aspects of this bill were thoughtfully included to encourage the use and success of the newly installed hearing loops. Directional signage will be required in all public areas with loop technology installed.  Additionally, Intro 882-A requires that information, security, and reception areas in all newly looped venues be made accessible via micro-loops. By July 2018, the office of the New York City Mayor will be required to maintain an on-line list of city managed facilities with hearing loops, including those slated to receive them going forward.

New York City is the first major city in the United States to enact legislation of this kind.  In doing so, they demonstrated that they value the input of their deaf and hard of hearing community members and are actively working toward inclusivity. Way to go New York City!

World Leaders in Hearing Loop

Hearing loops, also known as induction loops or t-loops, are assistive listening systems that provide access in facilities and venues for those who have a hearing impairment. The hearing loop takes a sound source and transfers it directly to a hearing aid equipped with a telecoil.

 

One of the most important considerations when it comes to installing hearing loops is meeting the IEC standard. Loop technology is often installed incorrectly, which results in unimpressive performance.

 

Listen Technologies and Ampetronic are the world leaders in hearing loop installation and training. Listen Technologies offers training courses that thoroughly walk through the installation steps and IEC standards. Our partners at Ampetronic have produced some fantastic videos offering installation tips for hearing loops. Watch them, here.

Get Loopy at the Loop Utah Conference May 2 – 3

We love it when amazing people come to town, especially when those amazing people talk about something near and dear to our hearts. In honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month in May, Loop Utah and the local Utah Chapter of the HLAA have invited Dr. Juliette Sterkens as a special guest speaker.

Dr. Sterkens, a National Loop America advocate and an audiologist, will discuss the importance of the installation of hearing loops throughout the United States. She will also touch upon the subjects of advocacy and compliance for those with hearing loss.

Listen Technologies is very excited about this event as it supports Hearing Loop awareness, legislative compliance, and, in May each year, Better Speech and Hearing Month. Better Speech and Hearing Month is dedicated to raising more awareness about communication disorders. This year, the focus is on identifying the signs of communication disorders.

Get loopy with Loop Utah and support this event, which consists of two sessions. The first session on May 2 is for industry professionals, such as audiologists, architects, and facility managers, while the second session on May 3 is for the general public. If you’re interested in attending, please view the specific information below.

WHEN

May 2, 2014 (for audiologists, architects, and facility managers)

9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

May 3, 2014 (for the general public)

9:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

WHERE

Sanderson Community Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

5709 S. 1500 West

Taylorsville, Utah

All conference rooms are looped.

Hearing Loop Technology & Installation Methods Have Come a Long Way

Although Hearing Loop technology has been around for quite a while now, some people still have misperceptions that it doesn’t work well. The reason is that Hearing Loop systems of the past received a bad reputation, because of people not fully understanding the principles behind them.

We saw some people trying to install these systems in the early 60’s and 70’s, but at that time there were no real standards for installing them. There were cases where some installers were throwing down any kind of wire (like a telephone wire) as a “perimeter loop” around any size room, and hooking it up to any amplifier, and then trying to pass this off as a Hearing Loop system. This was wrong in so many ways!
As a result, people in the past with T-coil equipped hearing devices had to sit right next to the wall where the perimeter loop wire was to pick up any level of the audio at all, and yet at the middle of the room/facility they had no audio reception. People became frustrated and the general consensus about the technology was, “that it didn’t work.”  This earned Hearing Loop systems a bad reputation in the United States. In reality, it wasn’t the technology that was bad; it was a culmination of bad design, metal loss in the same physical plane of the loop, bad installation, and the wrong product selection. Unfortunately, some of these perceptions of these systems or, technology, still exist.
Obviously, you can’t just throw any equipment into a room and hope that it works. This is a point that we strive for people to understand. Attendees of our Listen Basic Hearing Loop Training (Level 1) Webinar have this basic understanding.  The International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) IEC-60118-4:2006 standard for Hearing Loop systems is a result of ensuring that understanding.
The IEC 60118-4 provides a standard for system performance, specifies the use of the T-sign logo, and provides an expectation of quality. The standard of system performance specifically ensures that for each system there is:
1)      Low Electro-Magnetic Background Noise
2)      The Correct Field Strength
3)      Even Field Strength
4)      Flat Frequency Response
Listen Technologies offers our AV Dealers and Consultants a full One-Day Integration & Commissioning of Hearing Loop Systems (Level 2) class that takes participants through the steps required to properly install a Hearing Loop system. Participants will understand the following:
  • Loop systems principles.
  • Specification and design considerations of different kinds of loops systems – basic, advanced and phased-array.
  • Requirements of the international performance standard IEC60118-4.
  • Theory and hands on practical experience of installing, setting up, testing and certifying a hearing loop system.
  • How to effectively set up and measure the system to meet the IEC60118-4 standard.
  • Certifying the system to the IEC60118-4 performance standard.
  • Working knowledge of the different types of test equipment and methods for proper use.
  • Good wiring practices and product placement.
  • How to troubleshoot various real-world challenges to minimize their impact on the systems performance and utility.
  • Methods for performing site surveys for effective specification and installation of all types of hearing loops systems.
At the successful completion of this session and test, the participants will be certified as a Hearing Loop integrator capable of meeting the performance standard IEC60118-4.

Listen Technologies is proud of its partnership with the recognized world leader in Hearing Loop Technology, Ampetronic. The partnership allows Listen to distribute world-class technology and provide expertise in education and technical support to the growing number of North American based installers. To learn more about Hearing Loop Installation, I invite you to attend one of our Hearing Loop training courses.

Sam Nord of Listen Technologies Presents at the San Francisco Chapter of the HLAA

Recently, Sam Nord, the Territory Account Manager for California at Listen Technologies had the opportunity to give a presentation on Assistive Listening: ADA Compliance & Hearing Loop Technology to members of the San Francisco Chapter of the HLAA.

Sam’s presentation covered:
·  ADA Changes: What you need to know
·  Assistive Listening Devices in public venues
·  Trends in hearing aids
·  What venues need to know about people with hearing loss
·  Three types of assistive listening technologies (RF, IR and Hearing Loop)
·  Hearing Loop technology
·  Loop America Movement

One of the primary missions of the HLAA-CA is to educate people who have hearing loss, as well as their family members, friends, coworkers, teachers, and government representatives. As he was there to educate the members about Assistive Listening, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Hearing Loops, Sam’s presentation fit right in with their mission.

Of the many highlights at the event, Sam expressed particular excitement about the number of attendees. “I was very excited by the attendance at this event, which I was told was nearly double the usual attendance at these meetings. Clearly Hearing Loops are a hot topic of interest right now,” Nord stated.

Hearing Loops are gaining more popularity in the United States for a number of reasons. Firstly, more people have hearing aids that are equipped with t-coils making Hearing Loops the Assistive Listening technology of choice. People who have these types of hearing aids or cochlear implants don’t have to check out equipment that has been previously used by others; they can use their own devices.

Secondly, more people with hearing loss are demanding the technology. There are many Loop Movements, like the Loop Utah Movement, gaining momentum all over the country. “I was happy to learn that there are already the beginnings of a grassroots campaign in the area to get more and more facilities looped. There were non-HLAA members in attendance at this meeting who specifically came because they have had requests to put Hearing Loops in their facilities and wanted to learn more about what was required,” Nord said.

Finally, the number of qualified and certified Hearing Loop installers is growing in North America to meet the explosive demand for Hearing Loop systems. Throughout Europe Hearing Loops must be installed to the IEC Standard (IEC- 60118-4); integrators in the US are realizing that this quality standard is key to providing end users the best results. A properly designed, installed and operating Hearing Loop system delivers real tangible benefits to T-coil hearing aid users. It is a profound emotional experience. Proper training and certification to meet the IEC 60118-4 standard is critical to that experience.

Eventually, all of us will face issues surrounding hearing loss, whether it is our own or that of someone we love. Therefore, creating more awareness about these issues continues to be important for everyone. With double the attendance at his recent presentation in San Francisco, Sam helped build more awareness about some of these important topics.

If you know someone with hearing loss (or even if you don’t), we encourage you to become more aware about the ADA requirements for Assistive Listening and Assistive Listening Systems. You can do so by following our blog, visiting our resource pages on hearing loss advocacy and legislative compliance, joining your local chapter of the HLAA, help build the ALDLocatordatabase, or becoming an advocate in your area by starting a Loop Movement of your own.

Dr. Anne Lobdell Has a Hearing Loop Installed for Her Patients with Hearing Loss

In September, I had the opportunity to help kick off the Loop Utah Movement at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Festival in Salt Lake City. I’m happy to say, that in the weeks since our kick off, our movement is gaining momentum and we’re receiving support from local businesses, venues, and individuals.

As an audiologist and the Chair of the Loop Utah Movement, I decided to have a Hearing Loopinstalled in my office. The system, which was provided by Listen Technologies, transmits clear, amplified sound directly to the ears of my patients who have hearing aids with T-coils or cochlear implants.

The Hearing Loop was installed in my “fitting room” which is where my patients are fitted with hearing aids. This space allows them to experience the Hearing Loop right away and understand how the system can help them have better experiences at venues that offer this type of assistive listening technology.

Patients’ experiences have been overwhelmingly positive! After an in-office demonstration patients become excited about the possibilities of how a Hearing Loop system could improve the quality of life on a daily basis. I have had patients state that they will be requesting this technology at every movie theatre they go to. One patient commented that she is tired of not understanding the dialog when she takes her granddaughters to movies. It limits her experience with her granddaughters when she is not able to connect with them about the movie. She feels like the Hearing Loop system would allow for a much improved experience.

I also have a patient requesting that this technology be installed in her home, so that she can actually hear her television shows from her favorite chair. Another patient has a spouse with a voice disorder. Her voice does not go above a whisper. Even with hearing aids, conversation is very difficult for them. An FM system was tried, but did not work with their lifestyle. He was so pleased with how well he could hear her voice that he requested a portable Hearing Loop mat to take over to other family members’ homes.

Not only do new hearing aid and cochlear implant users get excited about the benefits of Hearing Loop systems, but those who have forgotten how much the technology can be of benefit to them get to experience it whenever they visit. With the in-office system I am able to remind them of the benefits and improvements of the technology, as well as the need for continued advocacy to improve their listening environment throughout their community.

Having the Hearing Loop system available to demonstrate in the office allows my patients to have a greater understanding of just what it can do for them. I will often give a verbal description of the technology and the patients will nod with minimal enthusiasm, but once I have them listen through the Hearing Loop system with competing background noise in the office, the light bulb goes off. They are suddenly excited and animated about the possibilities the Hearing Loop can provide. So often after demonstrating the system patients remark how great this would have been when I was in court, or traveling, or in the hospital, etc.  It would be great to change “would have been” to “will be.”

For more information on Hearing Loops, click here. You can also join the Loop Utah Movement by visiting the Loop Utah Movement website at http://www.looputah.org/.
Dr. Anne Lobdell is a licensed Audiologist who has been practicing for over ten years. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Mississippi and her Doctorate in Audiology at the University of Utah. Her passion for Hearing Loop technology began early in her career when her grandmother explained how a Hearing Loop allowed her to continue to participate in church services. This made Dr. Lobdell wonder why the technology wasn’t available in more places. She enjoys all aspects of her job and strives to provide her patients with the highest quality of care.

Partnering with InfoComm to provide CTS Renewal Units

Listen Technologies has renewed its partnership with InfoComm and their CTS Renewal Units Program. This program allows over 9,000 professionals with InfoComm International’s Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credentials to earn the renewal units they need in order to keep their certification. Specialists have the opportunity to earn four RU’s (Renewal Units) by completing Listen’s One-Day Integration & Commissioning of Hearing Loop Systems (Level 2) Class.

Through Listen’s Hearing Loop (Level 2) Class, AV Integrators and Consultants are trained to the high standards of the IEC 60118-4 specification, which is important to note, because Hearing Loops must be installed to this international standard in order for them to work at their highest performance level for signal strength and frequency response along with other criteria. If a technology doesn’t actually work for an end user, there’s really no point in installing it.

Our course includes an intensive full-day training session that takes people through understanding the technology along with the steps that are necessary to learn how to install a Hearing Loop system properly and to provide a Certificate of Conformity to the IEC 60118-4 standard. Those who attend these courses gain a hands-on practice of creating test loops, setting up, installing, and certifying a Hearing Loop system. They also learn the theories of why it is so important to install them properly. At the completion of the session and passing the final exam, participants will be certified as Listen Hearing Loop Level 2 Integrators making them capable of meeting the performance standards of the IEC 60118-4 standard that was mentioned above.

We are very pleased to be partnering with InfoComm to help AV Integrators and Consultants reach their CTS credentials. It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved. Not only do participants get to earn Renewal Units towards their CTS credentials from InfoComm, but we at Listen Technologies get to build more awareness about Assistive Listening Systems and Hearing Loops.

3rd International Hearing Loop Conference – What did we learn, & where do we go from here?

The Ampetronic team recently attended, and were the Gold Sponsors of, the 3rd International Hearing Loops Conference in Eastbourne, which was held in the Winter Gardens complex on the 6th and 7th of October, and I am delighted to report that it was, once again, a very positive experience for everyone (unless you were attending as a representative of a hearing aid manufacturer, more on that later).

The panel discussion in the main hall of the conference on a sunny Eastbourne morning
It was the first time that the United Kingdom has had the honour of hosting the conference and it was the charity Hearing Link that took up the challenge of organising and promoting it. Ampetronic have been heavily involved in the organisation of all the previous Hearing Loop conferences, and I’m glad to say that Loraine Gailey and Julie Leggett of Hearing Link sought our help and advice once again. So we not only gave workshop presentations to the delegates, but also helped plan the event and looped one of the main rooms and the Hearing Link members conference held the day before.
MultiLoop system installed for the Hearing Link members conference
The attendance was impressive and the delegation of around 250 people had come from around the world to take part, including a striking number who had made the 3,500 mile or so hop across the pond from the United States. It was a pleasure to be reacquainted with advocates like David Myers, Juliette Sterkens, Brenda Battat, Richard Einhorn and Linda Remensnyder who have been so pivotal in promoting hearing loops in America.
There were a number of industry and healthcare experts taking part (list of industry and healthcare experts) and therefore a lot of great information presented and discussed over the two day event, and whilst I couldn’t be present for all the concurrently held lectures I think it can be distilled into a few key points.
1. Lessons can be learnt from the UK and applied positively in countries adopting Loops
Despite the fact that in the U.K. Hearing Loops, or ‘Induction Loops’ as they are generally referred to on these shores, have a greater proliferation of installations than anywhere else in the world (mainly thanks to equal access legislation and the National Health Service distributing free t-coil enabled hearing aids) they have garnered a rather shaky reputation with end over the last 30 years or so.
There are a number of reasons for this:
a) When they were first introduced in the 1970’s Hearing Loops were more of a hit and miss affair, often installed as a hobby or experimental project by electrical engineers using standard audio amplifiers and some telephone wire.
b) Assistive listening legislation has helped provide an enforceable incentive to encourage retailers and venue operators to install loops, but unfortunately there is no enforceable Standard mentioned in this law. This has had the unfortunate effect of allowing venue operators to concentrate on cost, adopting a ‘tick box’ approach to legislation compliance without due consideration of the quality of service offered to the system users.
c) Since their introduction Portable Counter Hearing Loops have become a considerable problem for hearing aid users, whilst they offer an easily managed and cheap solution for the retailer or venue operator, they often bread bad practice when it comes to operation.
They are often purchased in bulk and distributed through retail chains without staff training, their portable nature encourages stores with multiple cash desks / payment points to only keep one system on charge but use signage at all points (which means that the user has to ask to use the system and rather defeats one the main attractions of Hearing Loops in that the user can remain inconspicuous), they often have an on-board omni-directional microphone which picks up all the sounds in the localised area offering no advantage over the intended users own hearing aids, and more often as not they aren’t charged or can’t be located and operated by untrained staff.
 
These problems, now identified, are rectifiable and easily avoided.
Standards are now in place that define what a good Hearing Loop system is (IEC 60118-4), and manufacturers such as Ampetronic have not only developed specifically designed current drive amplifiers but also defined the type of loop system necessary to provide a genuine benefit to the end user and meet the Standard in almost any application.
In the United States there is a currently a push to include the operational hearing loops standard IEC 60118-4 in the ANCI building code for any new loop installation, which would go some way to solving the low-cost tick-box approach to legislation and provide a good example to other countries.
It is now widely accepted by most informed professionals that portable counter loops are only a suitable solution for a very small number of applications.
In my opinion, which is far ffrom unique on this topic,  they shouldn’t be used on retail counters unless they meet strict criteria:
  • A unit is made available at each point where the service is advertised with a Hearing Loop sign (so that the hearing aid users don’t lose their anonymity by asking for it)
  • Be switched on at all times when the counter is attended.
  • Make use of an external microphone that is placed close to the mouth of the member of staff behind the counter (the only sound that is required to be captured)
  • The unit must have a designated position on (or in) the counter that has been checked with a field strength meter to produce Standard compliant audio at the ear height(s) of the intended users
  • Importantly a member of staff (on site) must be fully trained to make sure all these factors are taken into consideration at all times.
In other words, a fixed counter Hearing Loop is a far better and more manageable solution.
2.      Previously negative user experiences can be quickly converted into new positive ones
Because of the problems mentioned previously, both market research and anecdotal evidence suggest that hearing aid users in the United Kingdom have all come across hearing loop installations that didn’t work, produced poor quality audio, or simply weren’t even turned on. This creates a poor perception of the benefits of the technology for users and they are unlikely to ask for it in the future.
I heard a number of horror stories about poor loops before the conference started, and the people telling me seemed justifiably annoyed about them. But as soon as they experienced the professionally designed and installed loops temporarily installed in the venue the tone changed dramatically – words and phrases like ‘wonderful’, ‘thank you’ and ‘why aren’t they all like this?’ were suddenly being used.

Delegates chat with the Ampetronic team at our stand.
When listening to a good loop system the benefits are very obvious, indeed, I used a loop receiver myself during the conference due to the poor acoustics in the grand old building and the difference was dramatic.

If the users of the system have a good experience they will proactively use, and go in search of Hearing Loops, even suggesting that it should be installed to venue operators.

Manufacturers and distributors have a responsibility to assist in this change. Distributors who sell component products and loop solutions that aren’t suitable for the application they are to be used in are not only complicit in putting a system in place that is unlikely to provide a genuine benefit for hearing aid users, but is also undermining confidence in their own products for short term gain – bad business my anyone’s reckoning.

A good user experience should be expected, not a pleasant surprise. Responsible sales, adherence to Standards and training of uninformed loop installers are key to achieving this.

Since our inception over 25 years ago, and as part of our commitment to our company mantra ‘Provide a Genuine Benefit’, Ampetronic have long held the policy of not selling a Hearing Loop amplifier without first identifying if it is suitable for the application it is being used in, and we encourage our Global network of distribution partners to do the same. This attitude needs to be adopted across the industry to effect meaningful change.

Ampetronic’s Julian Pieters presenting on ‘The Art of the Possible’
 
3.      Loops Work! But hearing aid manufacturers and many audiologists are not invested in promoting them
A recurring theme throughout the conference was the issue of hearing aid manufacturer’s product marketing, and more specifically the claims made within it.

The large manufacturers of hearing aids make claims in their product literature about how well they operate in group settings, when out and about in busy shops, or over large distances. To promote that the hearing aid is compatible with Hearing Loops undermines this message, and as such it isn’t mentioned at all in some product literature.

Another problem is that hearing aid manufacturers often create proprietary accessories that only work with their own equipment, no doubt because this obviously stimulates sales, and so to promote that the aids are compatible with a publicly accessible sound source that doubles the effectiveness of the device at little or no cost is also not in their best interests financially.

Adam Beckman of the British Academy of Audiologists spoke briefly on the subject and Juliette Sterkens covered the subject in her presentation ‘It’s not so much about loops as it is about hearing loss’ stating that the actual effective range of a hearing aid is about six feet in one to one settings and that they could not possibly compete with the benefits a Hearing Loop can offer.

Hearing aid marketing and technology limitations was in-fact mentioned by most of the audiology speakers, and when Per Kokholm Sorenson of Widex took part in a panel questions and answer session at the end of the conference he was asked so many questions about it that he said he would ‘bring a tin hat’ if he attended again.

What can be done about this? Well, in the case of hearing aid manufacturers it is simply pressure from their customers, the people who buy the products. In the United States there has been a step increase in the amount of hearing aids fitted with telecoils as a results of the pressure from advocacy groups, but whether the manufacturers can be convinced to be a little more frank about the limitations of their technology remains to be seen.

Audiologists on the other hand have a commitment to helping their clients and providing the best solution they possibly can for each client. Audiologists in some countries are simply not aware of the technology and others have been convinced by the hearing aid manufacturers that it is no longer required and obsolete, so they don’t promote its use, and some don’t even bother to activate the telecoils when programing hearing aids. Education is essential to changing this.

Audiologists need to be made aware of the real and tangible benefits that Hearing Loops provide over simply using a hearing aid (or cochlear implant for that matter). We, as manufacturers, can supply the information, but this can only be done effectively by demonstrations and pressure to find out about Hearing Loops from other informed audiologists and by users insisting that the products they buy are Hearing Loop enabled.

4.      There is a link between dementia and hearing loss, and Hearing Loops help
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been around for some time now, we’ve posted numerous links to articles on our social media channels, and it is largely all down to research by Doctor Frank Lin at John Hopkins research center.

Linda Remensnyder gave an excellent and detailed presentation entitled ‘Can hearing loops reduce cognitive load in the ageing population?. She covered topics including the alarming statistics about the increasing number of people within the population suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia, describing it as a ‘time bomb’ and how the loss of hearing can lead people to shut themselves away, becoming socially isolated and how this in-turn leads to a decline in cognitive function.

If hearing health care in general can help, and the provision of good quality Hearing Loops in society can help delay the onset of then they must be embraced, by all. After-all, you don’t need to be using a hearing aid to take advantage of a hearing loop, just ask for a receiver, or buy your own if need be.

5.      There really is no new technology on the horizon that will replace loops in the near future
Dr Hannes Seidler and Per Kokholm Sorenson gave presentations on the ‘Near future of induction loop systems’ and ‘A possible successor to loop systems’ respectively.

Both examined what it is that makes Hearing Loops so universality accepted and whether or not radio technology, such as Bluetooth, could replace it in the near future.

Without getting too technical, both agreed that the barrier to replacing the Hearing Loop and Telecoil receiver combination with something better is that it is very hard to beat. In order to satisfy the same criteria any replacement technology must:

  • Not drain the batteries of the hearing aid
  • Not pass on a significant cost increase to the end user
  • Be able to cover large areas
  • Be able to allow an unlimited amount of connections at the same time
  • Be free to connect to and be universal
  • Offer better sound quality than a hearing loop
It would seem that although many radio technologies are in development, and the hearing aid manufacturers are using some of them already, none of the can currently satisfy all the criteria above, especially when it comes to developing a common standard among competing manufacturers.

The conclusion; there isn’t anything on the horizon that is better than Hearing Loops in the next 10 years, and if one is developed the aids should still be compatible with inductive loop technology, so keep on looping.

6.      Advocacy and promotion by ‘users’ and audiologists is the key to increasing the quality and quantity of Hearing Loop provision in all countries.
So what was the overall message at the end of the conference and where do we go from here?

Well, it seems to me that it boils down to this; Hearing Loops work, and when designed and installed with care they work very well, so there should be more of them and poor ones should be replaced. But who’s going to campaign and make it happen?

Hearing aid manufacturers aren’t likely to affect any real change and start to promote loops to audiologists, as it’s not in their financial interests, but they can be influenced to ensure their technology is compatible by the purchasers of the products – the audiologists, who are, ultimately, influenced by the hearing aid users and what they demand.

Governments and politicians will only strengthen legislation in response to public demand, they shouldn’t be at the mercy of commercial influence, but they are duty bound to represent their constituents. If enough of us ask for it, they will have to do something about it.

Hearing Loop manufacturers and retailers cannot effectively advocate to venue operators and audiologist for better hearing loop provision as we are seen as having a vested interest – in it for commercial gain, which of course we are – we’re businesses after-all. But that doesn’t mean that we manufacturers can’t be passionate about providing a great service to the hearing impaired users of the systems and work with them. We can of course also provide training to architects, specifiers and the installers of the systems to help reduce ignorance of Standards and increase quality.

So, that really only leaves the users of hearing aids, cochlear implants and, ultimately, Hearing Loops. Together they represent a huge demographic and can affect real and lasting change to improve their own quality of life. It might all seem like heard work, but it’s clearly achievable with organisation. We know this because of the sterling work performed by the Hearing Loss Association of America and their ‘Get in the Hearing Loop’ campaign.

By making the right information available to hearing aid users, pressurising local and national government, getting key audiologists to advocate for hearing loops amongst their peers and by holding technology demonstrations, Hearing Loops are now being installed all over America.

This model is easily duplicated and the 3rd International Hearing Loop conference was the perfect place to start.

Ask for our help, the team at Ampetronic are always more than happy to help out in any way we can.

Highlights in Houston with Mizzen Marketing

Listen Technologies was recently in Houston, Texas for Mizzen Marketing’s 4th Annual AV Expo. The event had many people in attendance over the two days who were very excited to view the products that Listen’s, Joel Motel, showcased. “Of the 31 vendors,” Motel states, “Listen was the only one that had two tables. We had so many products at the event that we needed two, eight-foot tables.” The products that were featured at the Mizzen event were Listen’s Wireless Conferencing, Digital Discussion, Portable RF, Stationary IR, and Hearing Loop.

Listen’s table featured the increasingly popular Jolene. She was designed using a fashion mannequin equipped with a sound level meter wired to a silicon ear, which measures the sound levels of personal sound systems. Her unique look always draws a crowd, whether she’s at an event like this one or visiting a school to help teach kids about noise-induced hearing loss.

The main Listen Technologies table also featured a Hearing Loop, which Motel was able to demonstrate to interested parties. He also conducted two presentations about the Hearing Loop during the event. The first of these presentations was an introduction to how Hearing Loop technology works—it uses a magnetic sound field that is directly transmitted to a user’s smart hearing aid (a hearing aid with a t-coil) or cochlear implants. This presentation was attended by a Houston audiologist, Dr. Paula Allison, who is a passionate advocate for Hearing Loop technology.  On the second day Motel gave a presentation on assistive listening and ADA compliance.

 

“One of the highlights of the event for me,” Motel concluded, “was having many of the attendees approach our tables and tell me that Listen was their go-to product for assistive listening and that they love the quality of our products.” We agree with Joel, this is definitely a highlight.
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