What Are These Hearing Loops?

A couple of weeks ago, Angie wrote a post chronicling her repeated failure to find functional loops so she could try out her newly-activated telecoil. I was curious, as I’ve never used a loop myself. I’ve seen the signs, of course: the white ear on blue background with a T next to it. But until my recent last visit at Phonak headquarters, I wasn’t even certain my hearing aids had a telecoil (they do).

It seems I’m not alone in being mystified/uninformed about loops, as the many questions on the Phonak Facebook page testify.

So. What are these hearing loops?

what-are-loops

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember me mentioning streamers like the Compilot Air or the M-DEX. What these streamers do is they transmit sound from an audio source (typically, your phone) directly into your hearing aids. Your hearing aids are basically working like “in the ear headphones”.

Induction loops allow the same kind of experience — without the streamer and in a specific place.

Here’s one of the many articles on hearing loops I was reading this morning, perfect if you’re in a geeky state of mind. The loop is actual wiring that produces an electromagnetic field which is “captured” by the telecoil in your hearing aids and transformed into sound.

This means that if you’re at a theatre that is equipped with a loop, you can put your hearing aid on the T-coil programme, and lo and behold, you’ll hear the audio that is playing directly in your hearing aids. Same thing at the till when you’re buying your train ticket — instead of struggling to hear through the glass and the crappy loudspeakers, you can hear the teller directly in your ears.

10 thoughts on “What Are These Hearing Loops?”

  1. Maria, not really: the ComPilot is something that will only work with your hearing aids for a specific audio source. You carry it around with you. A loop is in a specific place. It’s like a kind of field that bathes the place (room, theatre) and that allows you to tap into sound directly through a special programme on your hearing aid. Does that make it any clearer?

  2. Thank you Stephanie & Phonak for highlighting the simplicity and benefit of hearing loops. Promote the inclusion and activation of vertically mounted (as worn) telecoils and we’ll get the hearing loops “on the ground”.

  3. Stephanie – Your search for operational loops can be helped by accessing a couple of web sites that have lists of known looped facilities. There’s no guarantee the loop is actually operational or if it meets international standards as to the strength etc. of the signal it produces but…

    Here are the sites:
    http://www.loopamerica.com/loops.aspx
    http://www.aldlocator.com/

    A Google search may also find a local or state listing of looped venues by searching for “Loop New Mexico”, ” Loop Wisconsin, “Loop Colorado” etc.

    Your hearing care provider or Phonak should have had, at the very least, a neckloop that could be plugged into a telephone, TV, iPod to demonstrate the technology. I use a neckloop for daily for a variety of purposes – learn about them also by doing a Google search.

    You’ll be amazed and delighted at the performance of those little telecoils in your HAs.

  4. The Compilot can be very useful for listening on your cell phone or watching TV – it does very little to help you hear in public venues equipped with assistive listening systems (ALS). While there are three different kinds of ALS (FM, Infra-red and hearing loops) only the hearing loop is directly compatible with your hearing aids – as long as they are equipped with a telecoil and your audiologist or provider has programmed it for your needs – to hear all you need is turn the telecoil on. Users rave about hearing in a loop – for testimonials see nhttp://www.loopwisconsin.com/Testimonial.aspx and to read more about Bluetooth vs. telecoils see http://hearinglosshelp.com/blog/loop-systems-t-coils-vs-bluetooth-technology/

    If you have not heard what a loop can do for you – listen to this video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3XoVrUjfaY
    or take a moment to view these informative videos on loops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlnx3ZImTw0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPgvIKKza9s

    I am thrilled that Phonak is helping to educate consumers of this beneficial technology. The greater the functionality of hearing aids the more satisfied users will be, yes?

  5. Stephen: I’m not in the US, so the situation is probably quite different here. I haven’t actually shown any interest in loops until recently — tests planned next time I go to the lab!

  6. I have never seen one place with a hearing loop. There may be one in an area library but no where else.
    Is this a new technology that has not yet caught on or an old one that may never become a reality?
    I am about to give up on the telecoil function because I have not use for it.

  7. Steve, don’t give up on your telecoils. When you go to venues where hearing is a difficulty for you, speak to the owner/manager and advocate for a hearing loop installation. It’s not a new technology – it’s an underutilized technology that can benefit multitudes. Look up hearingloop.org as a start in the education/advocacy process.

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