When Is a ‘Portable Loop’ Not a Portable Loop?

Some time ago, I wrote a post asking if other hearing aid users found it difficult to find venues and customer service points with working hearing loops and, in the responses on the blog and Facebook page, it appeared that there was an even bigger issue at large and that was that hearing aid users were not all aware of what a loop and a telecoil do.

Steph followed up my post with a basic introduction to hearing loops and the telecoil setting, which is present (but not always activated) in most hearing aids.

As an accessibility consultant working with the hospitality industry in the UK, I am keen to raise awareness on the benefit of, and need for, hearing loops — and the way I explain the benefit to a hearing aid user is that it ‘overcomes the barrier of both distance and background noise, by transmitting directly into the hearing aid, the voice of the person speaking into a microphone linked to the loop’.

However, the best explanation I’ve seen is in this video: How a fixed room loop works by American loop installers, Otojoy, the link for which was shared with us by Juliette Sterkens from Let’s Loop Wisconsin in a comment on Steph’s post.

Although I’m struggling to find good quality working loops where I live, I have had two positive experiences of using them at conferences and this has contributed to me advocating their use to our clients in the hospitality industry: well, that and the Equality Act 2010! The Equality Act of 2010 replaced the Disability Discrimination Act and it also simplified and strengthened this UK law with regard to discrimination and inequality. Here’s what is says in regards to the duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to improve services for disabled customers:

Service providers are required to make changes, where needed, to improve service for disabled customers or potential customers. There is a legal requirement to make reasonable changes to the way things are done (such as changing a policy), to the built environment (such as making changes to the structure to improve access) and to provide auxiliary aids and services (such as providing information in an accessible format, an induction loop for customers with hearing aids, special computer software or additional staff support when using a service).

Equality Act 2010

So, why is it that so many establishments are falling short of what’s needed?

Continue reading “When Is a ‘Portable Loop’ Not a Portable Loop?”

Does a Lack of Loops Drive You Loopy?

Hands up if your hearing aid has a T-setting. Hands up if you regularly encounter loops that are not working or not switched on? Frustrating, isn’t it?

I’m new to being a loop user. I never felt the need to use them before but as my hearing is deteriorating, my audiologist recently recommended I start using loops and she activated the T-setting on my hearing aid.

Off I went into the world, which seemed pregnant with possibilities of smoother encounters at customer service points and checkouts and an ability to access conferences and theatre performances.

Oh, how quickly I came crashing back down to earth from the reality of how poorly serviced we are in terms of loop provision here in England!

Here is an account of my first two weeks as a loop ‘user’ (and I use the term loosely because I never got to ‘use’ a single loop).

Continue reading “Does a Lack of Loops Drive You Loopy?”