Tag: hearing loss

5 Ways to Help Others With Hearing Loss

5 Ways to Help Others With Hearing Loss

5 Ways to Help Others With Hearing Loss

Getting treated for hearing loss can be such a life-changing experience that it’s only natural to want to share the sense of independence, reconnection, and other positive outcomes that can go hand in hand with improved hearing. These five tips can help you pay your better-hearing success forward, inspiring others living with hearing difficulties to get the help they need.

 

1. Share Your Story

Research indicates hearing-aid wearers on average waited over a decade after a hearing loss diagnosis before getting the proper hearing technology. That’s a lot of time spent potentially missing out on important moments in life — not to mention the physical, mental, social, and even financial consequences linked to untreated hearing issues.

What if sharing your experience could motivate others to walk their own better-hearing path a lot sooner? Consider telling your inspiring story — whether virtually or in person — to neighborhood groups, senior-living gatherings, community sports teams, and other audiences eager to learn. Moving even one person with hearing loss to take action is time well spent.

 

2. Be the Companion  

Seeking hearing help is a big, empowering step, made even easier with the support of friends and family who not only want the best for the people they care about but who are also affected when those loved ones have unaddressed hearing loss.

If you’ve had a companion at hearing care appointments, you may already appreciate the power of having that emotional support, an additional perspective on your hearing needs, or a familiar voice for test-driving hearing technology. Imagine the satisfaction of being that companion for someone else.

 

3. Lend Your Skills

Whether streaming from media devices, connecting to hearing loops, interfacing with smart-home technology, providing fall detection, or translating other languages, today’s cutting-edge hearing aids bring their A-game, but knowing how to work them is key.

As hearing care professionals, we love helping patients get the most out of their hearing devices, but sharing your own tips, tricks, favorite apps, and compatible smartphone settings can also go a long way. If you know someone who might benefit from your helpful discoveries, consider offering a hand today.

 

4. Donate Your Hearing Aids

Ever wondered whether your used hearing aids could help someone else in need? They sure can! An estimated 466 million children and adults around the globe have disabling hearing loss, per the World Health Organization, and some have benefited from pre-owned hearing technology.

If you have an old set of hearing aids taking up space in a drawer or are thinking of upgrading your current ones to newer technology, please let us know. We may be running periodic donation drives or can help connect you with charitable organizations seeking used devices.

 

5. Remember Self-Care

In the excitement of a new year, you might forget to keep your own hearing health at its best. But as you plan upcoming adventures and begin working on your New Year’s resolutions, it’s a perfect reason to get your hearing — and your hearing technology — checked.

Not only do adults treated for hearing loss report significant improvements in relationships, mental health, social engagement, and other crucial areas, but their loved ones report improvements, too. So take care of yourself — for them and for you.

 

What if sharing your experiences could motivate others to walk their own better-hearing path? Consider telling your story to neighborhood groups and other audiences eager to learn.

 


 

Has it been a while since your last hearing evaluation? Do you have a loved one experiencing listening difficulties of their own? Don’t wait. Please contact our caring team today. We’re here to help!

6 Inspirational Latinos and Hispanics With Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Affects More Than Your Ears

Did you know there’s a high prevalence of hearing loss in the Hispanic and Latino population in the U.S.? Untreated hearing loss is linked to decreased cognitive function in this same population, so breaking down barriers to seeking treatment is crucial. And a good place to start is inspiring stories.

To mark National Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., which begins in September, and Latin American Heritage Month in Canada, which is in October, let’s look at some important Hispanics and Latinos with hearing loss.

Alex Lacamoire

Musical director of Hamilton, In the Heights, and Wicked

This Cuban American musical natural began studying classical piano at the age of 4 — around the same time his family started speculating that he had hearing loss. At age 13, he performed at the largest concert hall in Mérida, at the Autonomous University of Yucatán in Mexico. By the time he was in high school, he had hearing aids but wouldn’t wear them (he eventually came around). The Berklee College of Music graduate would go on to earn Kennedy Center Honors and win multiple Tonys, several Grammys, and other notable awards.Francisco Goya

Influential painter and printmaker

Goya is considered the most influential Spanish artist of the late 1700s and early 1800s. His body of work reflects the shift to a more modern approach in art. In fact, he paved the way for the likes of Édouard Manet and Pablo Picasso. It was in 1792 or 1793, during his time as a court painter in the royal household, that he suffered an undiagnosed illness that left him permanently deaf. Within a few years, he would assume the title of first court painter under King Charles IV in 1799.

Luis Miguel

Wildly popular singer and performer

Luis Miguel, a Puerto Rican-born Mexican singer who is often called El Sol de México, is widely considered the most successful musical artist in Latin American history. He’s the only Latin-music singer of his generation who did not become a crossover sensation for English-speaking audiences in the 1990s. Decades of performing took its toll, and he now experiences tinnitus, a condition in which a ringing, buzzing, pulsing, or other noise is heard with no external source.

Natália Martins

Professional volleyball player

Brazilian Natália Martins was only 6 years old when she was first fitted with hearing aids to correct her 70% hearing loss. Now, 30 years later, she is Brazil’s first-ever volleyball player with hearing loss to play professionally or to make it on her country’s national team. She played on several leading Brazilian teams before recently deciding to join a premier league in Romania. She is a brand ambassador for Sonova, which in 2020 released a short film about her life.

Stephanie Nogueras

Actor, mentor, and consultant

This Puerto Rican American actor was born profoundly deaf. Right after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology, she headed to Hollywood and, within six months, had landed a recurring role as Natalie Pierce on the TV show Switched at Birth and a role on one episode of Grimm. Since then, acting has kept her busy. She also teaches American Sign Language (ASL), mentors families of deaf children in Los Angeles County, and serves as a consultant and ASL coach for TV and film.

Dr. Robert Davila

Former Gallaudet University president (2007–2009)

As a young boy, Robert Davila, who was born in California to Mexican-American parents, had a sporadic education, as his family moved with the seasons. When he was 8, however, a severe case of spinal meningitis left him deaf, and he was sent north to the California School for the Deaf (CSD), where he thrived. He learned both English and ASL, graduated with honors, and went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. He became president of Gallaudet University, a premier university for the deaf and hard of hearing, after a lifetime of education in both teaching and administration.

Feeling inspired to take that first step to better hearing? Contact us today!

6 Ways to Keep Your Hearing Loss From Getting Worse

6 Ways to Keep Your Hearing Loss From Getting Worse

6 Ways to Keep Your Hearing Loss From Getting Worse

Looking Out for Your Hearing Health Is Even Easier Than You Think

If you have hearing loss, you’re not alone. With an estimated 466 million children and adults living with disabling hearing loss, per the World Health Organization, it’s one of the most common chronic physical conditions around the globe.

Though most types of hearing loss cannot be reversed, they can often be successfully managed with today’s innovative technology. And there are empowering ways you can keep your hearing loss from getting worse. Read on for six tips to do just that.

  • Avoid Noisy Environments

Among the most preventable causes of hearing loss, harmful noise levels — especially those reaching 85 decibels or higher — can do a number on your ears. The damage could be temporary or permanent. And it can worsen with greater noise exposure. When possible, avoiding harmful noise levels altogether is the best bet.

  • Wear Hearing Protection

Of course, avoiding excess noise isn’t always practical — especially if it’s part of your occupation. Whether you’re working around jet engines, calling games amid the whistles and cheers of a packed arena, or operating machinery at a farm, workplaces can be loud. That’s where hearing protection comes in. We recommend custom protection for even more effectiveness and a secure fit.

  • Address Earwax Buildup

Excess cerumen, or earwax buildup, can also be the culprit in worsening hearing loss. Typically your ears naturally push out excess wax, but sometimes the accumulation can form a blockage. To remove an earwax plug, gently soften it with drops of warmed olive oil, almond oil water, or a commercial solution — as long as you don’t have an eardrum perforation.

  • Beware of Ototoxicity

Some medications, including certain drugs used to fight cancer, can be ototoxic, or damaging to the inner ear, potentially leading to hearing loss or worsening of existing hearing difficulties. Rather than stopping the medication if prescribed, talk to your doctor or another provider about the risks, potential alternatives, and possible ways to mitigate any threats to your hearing.

  • Think Total Wellness

It’s easy to think of hearing loss as just an isolated challenge, but it can go hand in hand with other conditions, such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, dementia, and other health problems. Though cause and effect aren’t necessarily conclusive in all cases of hearing loss, staying dedicated to total wellness can potentially go a long way toward helping preserve your current hearing levels.

  • Lean Into Technology

As mentioned early in this story, today’s exciting, advanced technology plays a big role in successfully managing hearing loss. With the help of a licensed hearing care professional and solutions tailored to your needs, you can discover a whole new world of sound. Using hearing technology also helps you preserve the hearing you have.

So don’t wait. Take steps to preserve your hearing today. If it’s been a while since your last hearing check, or your current hearing devices don’t seem to help as much as they used to, contact us for an evaluation. We’re committed to helping you hear your best!

Illustration of people adding app blocks to a larger than life smartphone

6 Smartphone Apps to Help Boost Your Communication

Want to feel even more connected to the world around you through the power of sound? There’s an app for that!

Actually, we’ve compiled a list of six apps that can help support your communication wellness.

    • 1. Live Transcribe

      This Google app for Android-powered smartphones doesn’t translate but does transcribe in-person conversations in real time. The program — developed with Gallaudet University, the renowned U.S. school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students — can turn speech from more than 70 languages and dialects into text on your phone’s screen in a matter of seconds, facilitating communication with quick, helpful captions. It even supports bilingual chats, letting you toggle between languages, and allows you to type your responses rather than speak them if so desired. Bonus: The app can also notify you of important sounds — the beep of a smoke alarm, for example — in your home.

 

    • 2. NIOSH Sound Level Meter

      Though it can’t replace professional instruments or expert opinion, this app uses your compatible mobile device’s built-in microphone to measure the sound level in your environment. On a global scale, some researchers estimate that 16 to 24 percent of hearing loss is associated with occupational noise. Excess noise is one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss, making it important to know the sound levels where you potentially spend a lot of time — at work — so you can curb your risk. The app can also help approximate noise at stores, restaurants, or anywhere else you may need to protect your hearing.

 

    • 3. SoundWatch

      How does artificial intelligence right at your wrist sound? This exciting smartwatch-based application can alert you to the sounds around you, making daily life even easier. The application, developed especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, uses machine learning to alert the user to certain types of sounds they can preselect — a car honk, a cat’s meow, a baby cry, or running water, for example. It’s not for emergencies or other high-risk situations but could help enhance general awareness of your environment.

 

    • 4. Marlee Signs

      This app for children and adults teaches basic American Sign Language (ASL) with Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf. ASL, common in the U.S. and Canada, offers a way to connect with others regardless of their hearing ability but can be especially useful for those who are or have friends or loved ones who are deaf or have a severe to profound hearing loss. Other ASL-instruction apps are also available, so consider using a few different ones to explore finger-spelling, conversational signing, building vocabulary, helping babies communicate, and more.

 

    • 5. SoundPrint

      This app takes noise measurement to a whole other level with its decibel meter coupled with the ability to upload results to the user community via a searchable database. Users can look for restaurants, gyms, subways, and other spots by categories such as “quiet,” “moderate,” “loud,” or “very loud” sound-level ratings. Like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter, SoundPrint doesn’t replace a professional device, but it may help approximate noise levels in a given space.

 

  • 6. AGX® Online Hearing Quiz

    OK, this one isn’t an app, but it’s just as convenient. The AGX Online Hearing Quiz — developed with audiology experts — takes only two minutes and provides a quick snapshot of your general hearing ability based on three broad aspects: the listening environment, the different tones you can hear, and your ability to hear speech amid noise. It doesn’t replace a true diagnostic hearing exam, but it will indicate if you can benefit from further testing.

As with any app, availability, functionality, and cost can change. The mobile apps listed above are free as of this writing, but compatibility with iOS- or Android- powered phones, tablets, or watches can vary per program, so be sure to read about them in the relevant online app store for more details.

Have questions about using apps with your hearing device? We’re here to help. Contact our caring team today!


Find Your Favorites

A whole world of apps awaits, so don’t hesitate to build your own list of healthy-hearing faves. Get started with these simple tips:

  • Search by keyword, developer name, app title, or product category to turn up results you may want to check out.
  • Carefully read the app description and system requirements. Some apps might also offer a demo you can preview before buying or downloading.
  • Learn what others think of the app by reading users’ comments and professional reviews that may be available online.
Illustrations of scientists in white coats checking beakers full of fluid

Today’s Hearing Research Offers Hope for the Future

Scientists. They’re just like us: always looking for ways to help people hear and live their best. It starts with uncovering the mysteries of hearing loss, which can require a lot of resources. That’s why we love seeing important research initiatives get the funding needed to move forward.

Check out these three exciting developments:

AUDITORY PROCESSING

Can stress early in life affect children’s ability to make sense of what they hear? A $2.3 million grant awarded by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health will help Northeast Ohio Medical University explore just that. The funding will help power an investigation into the role of early-life stress on auditory processing — especially among children with conductive hearing loss. Per the school’s website, the research in part “will provide a focus for future experiments to determine how best to remediate these perceptual problems in children.”

HEARING LOSS AND TINNITUS

Certain chemotherapy drugs can be life-saving for patients but potentially harmful to the ears. A $5.7 million U.S. National Cancer Institute grant will help researcher Lois B. Travis, M.D., Sc.D., at the Indiana University School of Medicine continue an ongoing investigation. The study, aimed to “evaluate long-term health outcomes for cancer patients who receive platinum-based chemotherapies,” may help provide some important answers regarding potential links between the cancer treatment and conditions such as hearing loss and tinnitus. It eventually could help experts identify not only those at greater risk of the harmful side effects but also ways to reduce such risks.

HEARING HEALTH & COVID-19

Amid increasing reports of potential links between COVID-19 and hearing loss, the U.K.’s University of Manchester is taking a deeper look. With support from donors, the school’s Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness is exploring the disease’s long-term effect on hearing ability among adults. More than 10% of respondents treated for COVID-19 had reported tinnitus or decreased hearing in a previous study by one of the investigators. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the current research, which might offer additional solutions for protecting and preserving hearing health.


Did you know? Today’s better-hearing solutions are a testament to the tireless research that has helped make them possible. Discover the benefits firsthand by scheduling a hearing evaluation with our highly trained team. We can’t wait to see you!

Illustration of holiday table full of treats

Diabetes and Your Hearing | Diabetes-Friendly Recipe

Diabetes and Your Hearing

Did you know hearing loss and diabetes have something surprising in common?

Sure, they’re both health issues affecting millions of people around the world: Hearing loss affects 466 million worldwide, and diabetes affects 422 million people worldwide, per the World Health Organization. But they have even more in common.

Hearing Loss Is Linked to Diabetes

Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes. Even among adults with prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than those with normal blood-sugar levels. What’s the connection? Researchers are always fine-tuning their knowledge, but poor blood flow to the inner ear does play a role.

Diabetes-related hearing loss can affect one or both ears, may occur gradually or suddenly, and may or may not have related balance problems.

How You Can Fight Back

You don’t have to let diabetes get the best of your hearing — fight back by reducing your overall risk of hearing loss:

  • Keep up the good work managing your diabetes in collaboration with your medical doctor.
  • Avoid loud noise. Use hearing protection if that’s not possible. Excess noise is one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss.
  • Avoid using tobacco, which increases the risk of hearing loss.
  • Stay physically active, because excess weight affects your hearing.
  • Have your hearing evaluated by a licensed audiologist at least once a year — just like regular eye and teeth care — for early testing, detection, and treatment of any problems.

Eating a balanced, nutritious diet, which is crucial for managing diabetes, is also crucial for optimal ear functioning. During the autumn and winter, when we’re all a little more prone to snacking on sweets, is a prime time for this peanut butter and banana oat bite recipe from the American Diabetes Association.

Peanut Butter & Banana Oat Bites

Ingredients
1 egg
1 ripe banana (mashed)
1/2 cups peanut butter (heated in microwave for 30 seconds)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp Splenda Brown Sugar blend
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free if needed)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground flax seed

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together wet ingredients and Splenda Brown Sugar blend.
  • In a small bowl mix together remaining dry ingredients.
  • Add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix well.
  • Scoop batter into 1 Tbsp. balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • Cool on wire rack.

Head to the recipe page on their website for nutrition information. Plus, there are plenty of additions, substitutions, and raves below the recipe in their Reviews section!

Take control of your overall health and wellness with an annual hearing exam. Contact us to schedule your appointment today!

Illustration of two hands; one holding a green puzzle piece and the other holding a yellow puzzle piece.

5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Mood This Winter

Hearing health and mental health have a clear connection.

In fact, untreated hearing loss increases your risk of depression, anxiety, social isolation, and more. Winter is also a prime time for seasonal blahs. If you could use a little mental-health boost, here are some simple ways to get started.


Express Gratitude

Gratitude improves happiness, well-being, and mental health. The best-researched method is keeping a gratitude journal. Once or twice a week, choose one act or person you’re grateful for and write a few sentences detailing why. In daily life, you’ll begin to seek out the positive — rather than the negative — and writing it down allows you to really savor that positive emotion.
 

Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, which relieve stress and boost your mood. You can even use small things that add more activity to your day, like skipping the elevator in favor of the stairs or taking a short, brisk walk. If you work from home, tackle chores that require you to walk to another room or — better yet — another floor. Aim for 30 minutes a day.
 

Spoil Your Senses

Use your senses to quickly find calm. For some people, it’s an uplifting song or the smell of ground coffee. For others, it’s squeezing a stress ball. Each person’s relationship to their senses is a little different, so experiment to figure out what works best to bring you back to center.
 

Lose Yourself

Doing something you love, something you know you can lose yourself in, allows you to forget about life for a while. You don’t have to be a parent, a spouse, or an employee — you can just be.
 

Find a Furry Friend

Interacting with a pet lowers cortisol — the stress hormone — and raises oxytocin — the feel-good hormone. It also lowers blood pressure and eases loneliness and depression. Don’t have a pet? Walk a friend’s dog, volunteer to cat-sit for a vacationing neighbor, or volunteer at a shelter.

Contact us to learn more about the hearing health–mental health connection!

Man in hospital bed takes care of his hearing aids

8 Hearing Aid Tips for Hospital Stays

Checking into a hospital can seem a little stressful, making it all the more important to feel empowered, alert, and engaged with the help of your hearing aids. Help protect them during your inpatient visit with these handy tips.

It can be easy to lose track of your hearing aids when getting inpatient care at a busy medical facility, so weíre sharing eight tips to help you protect your tech and continue hearing your best.

  1. Use a Container
    Keep a personally labeled container on the nightstand for your hearing aids when not in use. And remember: Hearing-aid dryers and dehumidifiers can double as storage, too!
  2. Bypass the Food Tray
    It might seem convenient to set your hearing devices on your food tray, but they can get damaged or lost that way. Better to keep them in their designated container.
  3. Take Them Out
    If staff comes to change the bedsheets and youíre unable to get out of bed, remove your hearing devices so they donít fall off in the linens and get discarded.
  4. Skip the Pockets
    Pockets seem naturally convenient for storing hearing aids, but not so fast! Your devices could become forgotten there and end up being tossed into the washing machine and damaged.
  5. Give the Batteries a Break
    Remember at night to remove the batteries from your hearing devices and leave the battery door open, helping reduce moisture and maximize battery life.
  6. Enlist Family Support
    Consider not keeping your hearing aids with you and instead having friends or family bring them when coming to visit, if thatís feasible.
  7. Share Your Concerns
    Make sure your medical team is aware if you have a significant hearing loss, and tell your doctor if youíre concerned about being able to hear just before surgery or in recovery.
  8. Think Ahead
    Inpatient facilities typically donít assume responsibility for lost hearing aids, glasses, or dentures, so provide a checklist to loved ones who can help you keep these critical items safe and sound.

Communicating on your terms means keeping your hearing technology safe, sound, and ready when you need it. For more tips on protecting or maintaining your devices, please donít wait. Contact our caring team today. Weíre here to help!

TV using streaming to hearing aids

Hear Better at Home – TV using streaming to hearing aids

You might be surprised how many small ways you can complement the better hearing you already get from your hearing aids. Read on to learn about technology that can improve communication ó and connection ó even more.

If you’re adjusting to hearing technology, you’ve no doubt noticed how many situations around the home could be improved through better hearing, especially if you’re retired, work from home, or have relatives who live far away.

Today’s hearing aids are tiny computers, which means they can take advantage of the latest in computer technology ó and you can take charge of your hearing.
 

Captions

For those with hearing loss ó with or without hearing devices ó closed captions improve speech understanding. But if you’re on a video call with loved ones in a different state, or you work from home, is that even possible? Turns out, it is.

Video calling platforms
For personal use, such as video calls with loved ones, Skype and Google Hangouts offer closed captions. For businesses, Microsoft Teams now offers captions only in meetings, and Zoom doesn’t have a built-in capability, but captions can be generated by a third-party service.

Apps
You can also download mobile apps to create closed-captioning for phone and video calls. Google Live Transcribe (Android), Rogervoice (iOS and Android), and Otter (iOS and Android) transcribe your calls in real time. Google Duo, which works on both iOS and Android, is a video-calling app that will soon offer captioning.
 

Streaming

Streamers
Did you know there are devices that allow your TV, stereo, or other sound source to “talk” to your hearing aids wirelessly? In other words, with these devices, your hearing aids become wireless headphones. The process is called streaming, and the devices are called streamers.

There are streamers to handle any kind of input. Some use a microphone to capture soundwaves in the air, others are plugged directly into the sound source, still others can receive a traditional Bluetooth wireless signal. But all of them use an FM signal or electromagnetic field to “talk” to your hearing aids.

What does this look like in action?

  • Are you watching TV with one or more people? With a TV or media streamer, you can control the volume in your hearing aids, while the others in the room listen at a different volume.
  • It’s the big game, but you need to head to the kitchen. No problem ó with a TV or media streamer, the sound travels with you in your hearing aids, allowing you to hear the sportscasters’ play-by-play.
  • Need to take the trash out but your favorite song just came on the radio? With a media streamer, you can still groove to the music in your hearing aids as you quickly pop into the backyard.
  • Hard to hear the other end of the table during weeknight family dinner? Use your tabletop or clip-on microphone to stream the conversation right to your hearing devices.

There are also mini-remote controls available that allow you to discreetly adjust your hearing aid settings or volume from your pocket or purse!

Made-for-smartphone
Hearing aid batteries are not strong or long-lasting enough to support traditional Bluetooth technology. That’s why most streamers use an FM signal or electromagnetic field to talk to your hearing devices.

But some newer hearing aid models are equipped with a newer, low-energy version of Bluetooth. These hearing aids can stream the sound directly from your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices ó no streamer needed! You can even use your smartphone to discreetly adjust your volume or settings.

This same streaming technology lets you use your phone as a microphone. Simply place your phone where you want to pick up conversations, music, or other audio and activate Live Listen (built into iOS) or Headset Remote (an Android app). Whatever sounds your phone picks up will be streamed to your hearing devices.
 

There is a vast array of options for making your hearing even better around the house ó contact us today to learn more!

Illustration of a woman pondering something with purple question marks floating around her

Get in the Loop | Hearing Loops & How To Utilize Them

Have you — or has someone you know — ever gone to a play, seminar, house of worship, or musical performance, optimized your hearing device settings, and still had trouble hearing?

Why does this happen?


Hearing in Public Spaces

When you listen to a live speech, classroom lesson, classical guitarist, or clergyperson, your hearing device uses a built-in microphone to capture the sound waves in the room. The sound is processed according to how your devices are programmed and then sent to your ear.

No matter how well your hearing device matches your hearing needs, however, other things in the room impact the sound waves before they reach your hearing device — for example, any background noise and the acoustics of the room.

What if there was a way to avoid all that impact?

There is.
 

The Hearing Loop

More and more organizations are installing something called a hearing loop into their performance halls, seminar rooms, and worship spaces. In addition to the usual sound system, these venues use a hearing loop to generate sound information using a magnetic field.

Let’s see how it works:

  • A sound source, such as the headset used by a performer or seminar speaker, sends sounds to an amplifier.
  • The amplifier sends a current through wires that surround the room along the floor, ceiling, or both.
  • The wires generate a magnetic field (rather than sound waves).
  • Your hearing aid picks up the magnetic signal using a tiny wire called a telecoil — most hearing aids and cochlear implants today have one already, and if not, it can likely be programmed into your devices.
  • Your device processes the signal from the telecoil and converts it to sound.
  • The sound is sent to your ear canal.

 

Benefits of a Hearing Loop

Knowing how a loop works doesn’t reveal much about why you would want to use one, though. Here are just some of the benefits:

Sound quality. By far the greatest benefit is sound quality. The magnetic signal received by the telecoil isn’t affected by things such as background noise and the acoustics of the room, so speech and music sound clearer.

Ease of use. To enjoy improved sound quality, simply switch your hearing device’s setting so it’s using the telecoil rather than the microphone to receive sound. You don’t have to build extra time into your schedule to pick up and return special equipment.

Versatility. Enjoy seamless hearing capabilities across an array of environments, such as theaters, places of worship, classrooms, and even businesses like pharmacies.

Discretion. Taking advantage of loop technology is inconspicuous, which encourages participation and inclusion, increasing the likelihood of adoption on a more widespread scale.
 

Using a Hearing Loop

Now you know about hearing loops, and perhaps you’re even a little excited by the idea — so what’s next?

Visit your hearing care provider. Though turning on the telecoil setting of your device is simple, you need to be prepared before exploring looped venues. Your provider will need to ensure the telecoil programming matches your regular programming as closely as possible. They’ll also need to show you how to switch to and from the telecoil setting. Different manufacturers — and even different models from the same manufacturer — handle the telecoil differently.

Identifying looped venues. Venues equipped with loop technology prominently display an internationally recognized symbol — a deep blue background emblazoned with a white ear, a diagonal white bar, and a capital letter T in the lower right corner. Hearing loops are the internationally accepted standard for hearing accommodation. The symbol assures people with hearing loss that their needs will be met.
Hearing Loop

Ensure everything works. Sometimes venues are set up for looping, but the equipment isn’t turned on. If you saw the telecoil symbol somewhere in the building, you’ve turned your device to the telecoil setting, and nothing seems to be working, seek out management to see if the equipment needs to be turned on.
 

Spread the Word About Hearing Loops

Once you’ve successfully used a hearing loop, consider mentioning them to the management of the places you frequent. Many businesses have never heard of a hearing loop but would gladly consider installing one to ensure their business is more accessible and comfortable for those with hearing loss.

The more hearing loops become commonplace, the more likely you are to see them pop up in places like grocery stores, shopping malls, and even homes.