An induction loop is basically a coil of wire that surrounds an area in which people with hearing loss will be located. Loops are typically installed under the carpet or around the tops of the walls of a room, where they meet the ceiling. The loops are attached to an amplifier, which is fed by a sound source – a microphone, radio, or whatever the users want to hear.
Users switch their hearing aids to activate the telecoil (T-coil), and the signal in the induction loop activates the telecoil to transmit the sound to the hearing aid. This is the same method that is used to enable people with hearing loss to use their telecoils to hear on the phone; the difference is that the loop used to drive the hearing aid telecoil is a lot bigger than the one in a phone.
A loop is a great assistive device for people who have enough residual hearing to be able to use it. Many lecture halls, theaters and meeting rooms have loops installed. And they’re becoming increasingly common in people’s homes.
March 2013 – Here’s a nice collection of articles on Hearing Loops
December 2012 – YouTube Video Explains Telecoils and Hearing Loops
November 2012 – New national hearing assistance device/loop locator
September 2012 – Hearing Loops Provide Clear Access for People with Hearing Loss
September 2012 – Johns Hopkins Installs Hearing Loops
July 2012 – The Hearing Loss Association of America Names New Hearing Loop Advocate
June 2012 – Michigan Busses Install Hearing Loops
May 2012 – Listen Technologies Partners with Ampetronic to Deliver Induction Loop Solution
April 2012 – How hearing loops can help
December 2011 – Understanding Hearing Loops
November 2011 – Harnessing the Human Factor in Hearing Assistance
November 2011 – The Hearing Loop Movement is Accelerating
November 2011 – 2nd International Hearing Loop Conference White Paper
November 2011 – SW Florida Performing Arts Venues Install Loops
October 2011 – New York City Transit adds Induction Loops to Station Booths
October 2011 – New York Times article spreads the word on the wonders of hearing loops
September 2011 – Why Hearing Loops are Back to Stay
August 2011 – Hearing Loop Conference: Getting into the Hearing Loop
June 2011 – Hearing Loop Conference Workshop Schedule and Slides
May 2011 – Get in the Hearing Loop
February 2011 – Indian Trails Busses install hearing loop technology
December 2010 – Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems
November 2010 – Wisconsin audiologist introduces hearing loops to community
October 2010 – 2nd International Hearing Loop Conference Announced
September 2010 – Looping America – One Way to Improve Accessibility for People with Hearing Loss
August 2010 – Looped Church Makes all the Difference
July 2010 – Helping Those With Hearing Loss Get In The Loop
July 2010 – You Need to be Heard: Advocating for Hearing Loops
June 2010 – NY Subway Information Booths Looped
May 2010 – Shops face legal risk from hearing aid users
May 2010 – Induction Loop Systems: Help for Hearing Aids
April 2010 – Too many hard of hearing people are missing out
April 2010 – NY Transit Installs Hearing Loops
February 2010 – Progress Toward the Looping of America
February 2010 – Have we reached the “tipping point” on audio loops?
February 2010 – HLAA and AAA Promote Hearing Loops!
January 2010 – HLAA Boards Hearing Loop Train
December 2009 – Hearing-loss group gets looped
December 2009 – Albuquerque Little Theater Patrons Get Looped
December 2009 – Loopy Hearing Aide Idea Brings In Speech Loud and Clear
December 2009 – Hearing Loop Completes the Hearing Aid
October 2009 – International Conference on Induction Loops
October 2009 – First International Hearing Loops Conference
October 2009 – International Hearing Loop Conference Presentations Online!
October 2009 – A Loopy Idea That Works: Using Telecoils to Turn Hearing Aids into Mini Loudspeakers
October 2009 – Audiologists who “Get it” Promoting Hearing Loops
October 2009 – Connectivity: Early steps point the way toward wireless wonders to come
June 2009 – Loops Make Churches Accessible for People with Hearing Loss
June 2009 – Induction Loops: Completing the Hearing Aid
June 2009 – Pan-Oston releases kits to make self-checkouts hearing impaired-friendly
January 2009 – Contacta Announces Portable Loop System
August 2008 – New Zealand Airport installs induction loop!
June 2008 – Michigan Airport Announces New Hearing Loop System
June 2008 – Looping of New York Taxis is Underway
November 2007 – Hearing Aids Alone Won’t Do the Trick
March 2007 – Keeping Everyone in the Loop!
February 2007 – Looping system in public rooms improves hearing
January 2005 – David Myers reports that half of hearing aids sold in the US now come with telecoils!
October 2004 – Here’s David Myers’ update on induction loops.
August 2003 – Here’s a powerful story from Denise Portis on watching TV using a loop system.
November 2001 – Interested in a simple and inexpensive group assistive listening device that’s very effective? Perhaps an audio loop is what you’re looking for. Here’s a bunch of great information from the 2001 SHHH Convention Audio Loop Panel.
Interested in where loops are or should be installed?
There’s a growing movement in the US to greatly increase the locations that provide loops. Read all about Let’s Loop America!
Hearing Loops Provide Clear Access for People with Hearing Loss
The modern classical composer Richard Einhorn lost most of his hearing in 2010, suddenly and irreversibly, when he was 57. He feared he would never enjoy a live musical performance again. A year later, however, he attended a production of the musical “Wicked” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, which had temporary hearing loops installed for those attending the annual Hearing Loss of America Convention. Mr. Einhorn wrote to the Kennedy Center after the performance to urge them to install permanent hearing loop technology. “That evening was, by far, the clearest, most enjoyable performance I’ve attended since my hearing loss,” he said. “It meant so much to me to sit in a concert hall and, for the first time in a year, actually enjoy a live performance again.” More and more people with hearing loss across America are having the revelation Mr. Einhorn experienced. Thousands of new locations, from churches to theaters to the New York City subway system, have been looped in the two years since the American Academy of Audiology and the Hearing Loss Association of America collaborated to create the public education campaign, “Get in the Hearing Loop.” Full Story
How hearing loops can help
New technology has dramatically improved the quality of hearing aids in the past decade, but some say an old technology could have the most profound impact in the decade to come on millions of people with hearing loss. Just as WiFi connects people to the Web in wired places, hearing loops – simple wires that circle a room or part of a room – can connect many hearing aids and cochlear implants directly to sound systems. Bypassing ambient noise, this wireless connection lets users clearly hear actors on stage, the person in the subway information booth, their ministers or rabbis, announcements at an airport, even their own television sets. But as with all things that seem too good to be true, there’s a catch. Actually two catches. First, for hearing loops to work, users’ hearing devices have to be equipped with something called a telecoil – which is common but not universal. Second, public places have to be “looped.” In the United States, very few are. Full Story
Understanding Hearing Loops
An Audio Frequency Induction Loop System, or AFILS, is a relatively new acronym for an old approach to assistive listening that is more commonly known as a “hearing loop”. Using the full term may seem redundant to professionals in the hearing health industry because we know that the product of the inductive transmission is an audio signal, typically one that conveys speech information. Using the term AFILS or hearing loop is a matter of personal preference. But, it is imperative that AFILS/hearing loops are distinguished from neck loops. A neck loop is often supplied as a coupler to frequency-modulation (FM) systems and/or infra-red (IR) systems. At the outset, I will mention that all three of these assistive listening devices (ALDs) are capable of providing hearing instrument compatible auditory access through a telecoil! So, when you say something is “looped”, you may want to clarify what you mean because facilities with hearing loops are not as common as you might think. This article will: review the rationale for ALDs; outline the advantages and disadvantages of hearing loops; list types of hearing loop installations; and present considerations for programming the telecoil response in the hearing instrument. Full Story
2nd International Hearing Loop Conference White Paper
The 2nd International Hearing Loop Conference was co-hosted by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the American Academy of Audiology (Academy) in Crystal City, Virginia, from June 18 through June 20, 2011. The conference was a culmination of the year-long “Get in the Hearing Loop” campaign spearheaded by HLAA and the Academy. The event offered an international, highly public platform “to enlighten and excite consumers, as well as audiologists and other professionals who dispense hearing aids or provide services to individuals with cochlear implants, about telecoils and hearing loops and their unique benefits.” The conference was noteworthy in many ways. Full Story
SW Florida Performing Arts Venues Install Loops
The home of America’s top beach could also soon be the most hearing-friendly city in the nation. Using a grant from the Selby Foundation, 10 performing arts venues in Southwest Florida will install “hearing induction loops” that should vault the region to the national forefront of friendliness to the hearing impaired. Seven other local organizations – including three churches, a senior center and a library – also announced plans to install systems outside of the grant funding. With 110,000 people – roughly 16 percent of the population – of Sarasota and Manatee counties suffering from a hearing loss, the region has one of the highest hearing impairment rates in the nation. Full Story
New York Times article spreads the word on the wonders of hearing loops
For a decade or so, a growing band of advocates has been moving, slowly but steadily, toward its goal of “looping America.” Their vision is to have induction loops installed in public venues all over the country, so that people who use telecoil-equipped hearing aids and cochlear implants will be able to hear and communicate effectively in noisy places despite their hearing loss. This looping technology, which enables hearing aids to receive only the sounds coming directly from a microphone without the background noise, has been around for decades. While it is widely available in Scandinavia and Great Britain, it has been slow to catch on in the U.S. However, the looping movement got a major boost this week when a lengthy article in the October 24 New York Times, entitled “A Hearing Aid That Can Cut Out All the Clatter,” gave this technology the kind of positive publicity that no amount of money could buy. In the article, which was summarized that same day in the blog AARP News, Times reporter John Tierney led with the powerful story of a composer, Richard Einhorn, who had suddenly suffered a severe hearing loss last year at the age of 57 Full Story
Why Hearing Loops are Back to Stay
It’s ironic and somewhat unfortunate that the special feature that has the potential to provide the most benefit for many patients is one that often receives the least attention. In fact, it’s entirely possible that the same audiologists who are concerned about the best DNR, directionally and feedback reduction systems might not even include telecoils in the majority of hearing aids that they dispense. The “potential benefit” I’m referring to is the use of telecoils with hearing loops. These loops could be installed somewhere as simple as the patient’s living room, or made available in public listening locations like banks, hospitals, airports, auditoriums, places of worship and taxis. The list could go on and on (and maybe some day it will). All the patient needs is telecoils in his or her hearing aids. For a variety of reasons, the U.S. is far behind many other countries in the use of hearing loops. But hopefully that is changing. One person who is making it change, room by room, in her part of the world is this month’s 20Q guest author. Full Story
Hearing Loop Conference Workshop Schedule and Slides
The second International Hearing Loop Conference was held in conjunction with the 2011 HLAA Convention from June 18-20, 2011, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Here’s a link to the workshop schedule and many of the presentation slides.
Indian Trails Busses install hearing loop technology
For the over 36 million Americans who experience hearing loss, a motor coach trip creates a struggle to hear which stop is next or listen to the tour guide explain the history of an area. No longer for patrons of Indian Trails, Inc., which has aspired to be the first company in the United States to install hearing loop technology in a motor coach. “Why should hearing loss prevent you from enjoying a motor coach trip?” asks Jeff Deason, sales director for Indian Trails. Hearing loops transmit audio signals via a magnetic field created by a wire that loops around the interior of the coach. The transmitter is attached to the audio/video system. Full Story
Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems
It’s always interesting to see old technology become new again. We see it daily in our lives, but I’m referring to a specific type of old tech; hearing loops. The technology, which is correctly known by the name of inductive loops, has been in existence for decades. Based on Faraday’s law of induction, a magnetic field is created and individuals that have a Telecoil (t-coil) equipped hearing aid, can receive audio signals directly in their hearing aid. A “loop” is a relatively low-tech solution. In simple terms an area is surrounded “looped” with a piece of copper wire. Full Story
Wisconsin audiologist introduces hearing loops to community
By Rob Senior
While the United States tends to be on the cutting edge of new technologies, sometimes it pays to looks to other parts of the world for the latest advances and ideas. The audiology profession is no different.
When Juliëtte Sterkens, AuD, originally from the Netherlands and currently residing in Oshkosh, WI, started introducing and popularizing hearing loop technology in her community, many people thought they were seeing the latest advance to help individuals with hearing loss. But in reality, the idea had been around for quite some time.
“I was learning about this in in my studies–back in the late 1970s–in the Netherlands,” says Dr. Sterkens.
But it wasn’t until October 2008 that Dr. Sterkens realized hearing loops would not only be good for her patients; they also make great sense from an audiology practice point of view. Today, Juliëtte combines her audiology experience with the engineering background of her husband, LeRoy “Max” Maxfield, to bring hearing loop technology to the Fox Valley in Wisconsin.
Looping America – One Way to Improve Accessibility for People with Hearing Loss
By Patricia Kricos
If you attended the General Assembly during AudiologyNOW!(r) 2010 in San Diego, you are aware that the American Academy of Audiology is working with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) to advocate for improved accessibility for the 36 million Americans who have hearing loss. The goal is to increase consumer and audiologist awareness of hearing aid- and cochlear implant-compatible assistive listening systems, including telecoils and hearing loops, as well as other technology that will enhance the listening abilities of those with hearing loss. There have been exciting advances in hearing Full Story
Looped Church Makes all the Difference
For about four years, the Rev. Christine Chakoian recalls hearing nothing but gibberish when members of her north suburban Presbyterian church rose to ask the congregation to pray for them on Sunday. Cut off by a combination of the sanctuary’s acoustics and a typical hearing aid that blurred sounds traveling a distance, the Rev. Chakoian wouldn’t know what to pray because she couldn’t understand what was said from the pews. The disconnect not only undermined the Rev. Chakoian’s connection to her congregation at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, Ill., but it weakened her relationship with God. “In the Presbyterian church the word of God is the center of worship. If you can’t hear the word, you’re shut off from worship,” she said. “You’re there to be part of the community of faith. To not be able to participate in the community is worse than not being there at all.” That changed a year ago when the Lake Forest, Ill., church adopted the equivalent of Wi-Fi for the hearing-impaired, otherwise known as a hearing loop. Full Story
Helping Those With Hearing Loss Get In The Loop
This is TALK OF THE NATION SCIENCE FRIDAY. I’m Ira Flatow. Do you ever walk through a train station or airport in Europe or visited a cathedral there? You may have noticed one of the many blue signs of a human ear with the words hearing loop installed written underneath. The signs are a cue to the deaf or to hearing impaired, flip a little switch on your hearing aid and you can tune it to specially broadcast announcements sent directly into your ear, kind of like Wi-Fi for hearing aids. For those with hearing problems, it can make hearing a totally different experience. The technology is relatively cheap, it’s simple, but even though an estimated 36 million Americans have some level of hearing loss, it doesn’t seem to have caught on here in the U.S., at least not yet. Joining me now to tell us more about hearing loops and how they work is a man who is pioneering an effort to get them installed everywhere. David Myers is a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He is also a loop hearing system user. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY, Dr. Myers. Full Story
NY Subway Information Booths Looped
Getting around on the New York subways just got a lot easier for hard-of-hearing passengers. That’s because station information booths are now fitted with “hearing loops” thanks to the efforts of Janice Schacter, chair of the Manhattan-based Hearing Access Program, and funds from President Obama’s stimulus package. “We had a shovel-ready project that fit the criteria,” says Schacter. Much as a Wi-Fi network delivers wireless Internet access to computer users in coffee shops, a loop system takes sound from an electronic source, such as a microphone or TV, and delivers it directly to a hearing aid, right into a listener’s head. Hearing loops are relatively simple to install. The loop is created when a wire is installed around the perimeter of the room or subway car and plugged into an audio source. That wire then sends a signal to a tiny copper coil that’s now standard in most hearing aids. (Older hearing aids can usually be retrofitted for about $250.) Full Story
Shops face legal risk from hearing aid users
SHOP owners in Glasgow are risking legal action by failing to provide services for customers with hearing problems. The warning comes after a study revealed 84% of businesses did not have the correct technology to help customers with hearing aids communicate. The Royal National Institute for the Deaf found the majority of 156 businesses they surveyed did not have operational ‘induction loops’. The device helps users hear conversations by amplifying speech over background noise. The report found 64% of the businesses they questioned did not have an induction loop system while 11 loops were not turned on. Other problems were caused by staff lacking the appropriate training to operate the system. Full Story
Induction Loop Systems: Help for Hearing Aids
The development of modern digital hearing aids has introduced wonderful new possibilities to help hearing-impaired people. Fittings and set-ups are easier, amplification is powerful and handling has become more convenient. It is safe to say that the hearing aid has been the most important tool for hard-of-hearing people for decades and will be so for the foreseeable future.
However, there are numerous situations where a hearing aid is not sufficient for all listening needs and where an additional system may be needed. Wherever there is a high background noise or a long distance to the signal source, the signal-to-noise ratio runs too low and problems in hearing become evident. In places like churches, concert halls, theaters, cinemas, conference rooms, school classrooms, work situations, and sometimes even in homes, it can be hard to hear with only the assistance of hearing aids. Full Story
Progress Toward the Looping of America
For Americans with hearing loss, the inclusion of telecoils in all hearing aids and the looping of America would double hearing aid functionality, increase hearing aid sales and patient satisfaction, and, most importantly, enable those of us with hearing loss to hear in countless situations where we now experience uncertainty and stress. . . . imagine yourself as a person with significant hearing loss. While seated at the theater or at worship, or standing at a ticket window, you find yourself struggling to hear. Which of these hearing solutions would you prefer? Would you want:
- To take the initiative to locate, check out, wear, and later return special equipment (often a receiver with a headset or earphones that are likely incompatible with your hearing aids), or
- To push a hearing aid or cochlear implant button, turning your own hearing instrument into a wireless loudspeaker that broadcasts sound customized for your own ears? Full Story
HLAA Boards Hearing Loop Train
I was delighted to represent HLAA at the first International Hearing Loops Conference, September 25-27, 2009, in Europe. . . . . The Hearing Loss Association of America(r) renovated the national office space in Bethesda, Maryland, last October to include a new conference room designed to be hearing-friendly for meetings and presentations. Thirteen of the 15 HLAA National Board of Trustees members and one-third of the staff have hearing loss; therefore, it is important that staff and board meetings are completely communication accessible. Full Story
Hearing-loss group gets looped
The Adult Loss of Hearing Association is looped, and it wants you to get looped, too. That’s not a reference to holiday overindulgence. Rather, the group would like to see more public places – and private homes with hearing-impaired residents – install induction looping technology that sends out a wireless signal to certain hearing aids or to portable headsets. When someone is “in the loop,” he or she can hear speech clearly because sound is being delivered directly from the source, be it a television or a live person, without any background noise. Full Story
Loopy Hearing Aide Idea Brings In Speech Loud and Clear
Standard hearing aids capture sound via a microphone and then send an amplified version to an earpiece. They work well in relatively quiet, intimate settings, but in public spaces filled with background noise, most users find them of little use. A simple technology that sidesteps the problem, long available in Europe, has finally begun entering the U.S. market. Advocates hope that with the success of pilot projects, the hearing impaired will be able to find public address announcements and other kinds of speech more intelligible. The technology is an induction-loop system (known as a hearing loop), whereby electromagnetic waves produced by a microphone, public address system or telephone receiver induce an analogous current in the loop. The loop can broadcast the signals directly to a hearing aid equipped with an appropriate detector-specifically, a tiny copper telecoil wire, which picks up the signal (also via induction) and then sends it for amplification and transmission out of the earpiece. Full Story
Hearing Loop Completes the Hearing Aid
You may know that I’m a big fan of hearing loops, also called induction loops. For many people with telecoils in their hearing aid, they provide the most convenient access to sound from various sources. Here’s a great presentation that touches on all the various wireless methods of getting sound to folks with hearing loss. It was created by the folks at Wireless Hearing Solutions of Spring Lake, Michigan. They focus on hearing loss, so the presentation may have a bit of a bias towards loops. But it also has a lot of great information about all the various solutions. Full Story
International Hearing Loop Conference Presentations Online!
Videos of all presentations and the panel discussions at HEARING LOOPS, the first international conference on audio frequency induction loop systems (AFILS), which was held in Winterthur / Switzerland, September 25-27, 2009, can now be downloaded as video streams. Go to http://www.hearingloops.org/ and click on ³Speakers², ³Schedule² or ³Panel Discussion² and start the video. The video streams will be online for 18 months.
A Loopy Idea That Works: Using Telecoils to Turn Hearing Aids into Mini Loudspeakers
Whereas standard behind- and in-the-ear hearing aids work well in relatively quiet, more intimate settings, these devices often lose their effectiveness in larger, public spaces where background noise puts the hard of hearing at a disadvantage. Although the technology to solve this problem-induction-loop systems that broadcast sound directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants-has been available for years, implementation has lagged, advocates say, because not enough is being done to promote their use. Full Story
Connectivity: Early steps point the way toward wireless wonders to come
Increasingly, we are living in a wireless world. We can make and receive telephone calls while walking down a city street; we can listen to music while jogging in a park; we can e-mail, text, and compute anywhere from the airport to the zoo. No longer are we tethered to desks, phone booths, and electrical outlets. We are free to wander wirelessly through the array of electronics this world provides. Unless we wear hearing aids. For all too many consumers, wearing hearing aids precludes wireless clarity when using a digital mobile telephone or listening to music on an MP3 player or attending a concert or lecture or even watching a television program at home. But what if hearing-impaired people could hear music, lectures, TV programs, and telephone conversation wirelessly through their own hearing aids-devices that are customized and programmed to amplify according to each person’s individual hearing loss? Imagine moving through the day, from activity to activity, environment to environment, taking advantage of the latest generation of electronic devices without need for neckloops, headsets, or other such devices. We’re not there yet, but the first steps have been taken. And based on research currently under way, the day of easy, wireless connectivity for wearers of hearing aids is coming. Full Story
Pan-Oston releases kits to make self-checkouts hearing impaired-friendly
Pan-Oston, a leader in smart retail counter and checkout solutions, has introduced a kit that enables retailers, healthcare providers, airlines, HOTELS, libraries, businesses, government agencies and private service organizations to unobtrusively and directly assist hearing-aid wearers. According to a news release, the Shop Hear and Service Hear upgrade kits combine sophisticated electronic induction loop circuitry with a system’s amplifier, microphone(s), power and connecting cables and signage to quickly convert any self-service or self-checkout counter to a hearing impaired-friendly point of communication. Full Story