As the incidence of hearing loss increases in the U.S. and the stigma associated with wearing hearing aids diminishes, more people are turning to these devices to improve their ability to communicate. These factors have led many businesses and other public places to evaluate their accessibility and cater to those with hearing loss. One such solution that originated in Europe has recently gained traction in the United States. Known as looping technology, it gives people with hearing aids the ability to hear more clearly in many public places.
A hearing loop is essentially a loop of cable that generates a magnetic field that can be picked up by a hearing aid or cochlear implant equipped with a t-coil (telecoil), a thin strand of copper wire built into the device. The hearing loop transmits sound signals to the t-coil, which sends them to the hearing aid directly, reducing background noises and allowing the hearing aid user to pick up sounds clearly.
Individuals with hearing aids in Portland can take advantage of looping technology in many public places. Hearing loop systems can be found in concert arenas, auditoriums, classrooms, ticket booths, churches and many high-traffic buildings with PA systems. Hearing advocacy groups are pushing for the inclusion of hearing loop technology in all public spaces so hearing loss patients can maximize the effectiveness of their devices. As the number of patients diagnosed with hearing loss rises and standardization of t-coil switches continues, more businesses will install hearing loop systems for improved accessibility.