For the 48 million Americans living with hearing loss, finding hearing friendly venues and activities can sometimes become a struggle. Thankfully, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public listening systems for those with hearing loss. These Assistive Listening Systems (ALS) can take on multiple forms, ranging from WiFi systems, RF systems, or the increasingly popular and widely used Hearing Loop.
While traveling, you are sure to experience environments with different hearing challenges that may require more assistance than your hearing aids can provide, and where assistive listening devices like the Hearing Loop can truly shine. As Stephen Frazier, a writer for the Hearing Health Foundation, understands all too well. “In New York City not long ago, I expected to have a problem when I approached the fare booth to buy a subway pass. I knew the roar of trains constantly passing through makes it difficult for someone with typical hearing to communicate, let alone someone like me with a severe hearing loss. After noticing the subway station had a Hearing Loop system, Frazier turned off his hearing aids’ microphones and turned on the telecoils, “To my surprise and delight, I heard quite clearly the attendant’s voice, just as a train was passing through underneath.”
The Hearing Loop ALS uses a discretely hidden wire that usually surrounds a seating or populated area and plugs into an amplifier and PA system. The loop then converts sound from the PA system into an electromagnetic signal that is received and translated by telecoils that are in most hearing aids. The Hearing Loop is widely preferred due to how discrete the system is, allowing attendants and travelers to get the assistance they need without the external receivers that WiFi or RF systems require. Instead of using bulky headphones or receivers that resemble an old radio, sound can be instantly transmitted to your hearing aids, requiring nothing more than what you walked in with.
The Hearing Loop is also the preferred system by venues, as they are relatively cost-effective and require little-to-no maintenance. Without external receivers, there is no inventory to keep track of or replacement costs if receivers go missing. Not only is this beneficial to business, but helps make Hearing Loops more common in venues across the country.
Venues with Hearing Loop systems are easily identifiable, as the ADA requires a visible sign, a white ear and ‘T” against a blue background, to be posted inside the venue, making it simple for visitors to find discrete and easily accessible assistance on the road. If a sign is not present, be sure to ask an official or employee about their public accommodations for those with hearing loss. Used in places of worship, train stations, airports, and more, Hearing Loops can be found in most places where people congregate. To receive the assistance you need on the road, find a growing list Hearing Loop venues at time2loopamerica.com and aldlocator.com.