What does “loop” mean to you? You are about to learn a new definition for the word “loop” as it applies to the world of hearing loss accommodation.

Loop – a wire that acts as a conductor of sound. Used to aid the hearing impaired listener by transmitting the sound signal from the speaker to the hearing aid through electromagnetic energy received by the t-coil in the hearing instrument and converted into sound.

Audiologists who are familiar with Loops and Looping know that Loops can make a significant impact on the hearing impaired individual’s ability to hear in certain circumstances. Sometimes a hearing aid is not enough to help a hearing impaired person hear. This can be especially true if the sound is far away. For example… hearing the minister in the front of the church; hearing a movie or live presentation on stage; or hearing the television from across the room. Although with hearing aids the sounds may be audible they may not always be clear. Distance and reverberation can affect the quality of the sound as it travels to the hearing aid. A loop will bring the sound directly to the ear with little or no interference. Loops are just one of many ways to transmit sounds. I like loops because they are so versatile, require very little extra equipment and can be used with any hearing aid that has a telecoil function built in, which is most all hearing aids manufacturered today. [Not sure if your hearing aid has a telecoil? Ask your audiologist. Sometimes telecoils can be added].

FAQ about Loops:

Where are loops found? Loops are in churches, lecture halls, theaters, homes and more.

Can you find a loop in the store? Loops are not sold in your average department store. They are a specialty device made for hearing impaired listeners. You can purchase loops at an audiologist’s office or clinics that help the hard of hearing. You may also be able to find a loop online. But I cannot emphasize enough the importance of professional guidance in the selection and use of hearing devices for the hard of hearing. Additionally, audiologist's offices may have loaner devices that you can try before you buy.

What does a loop look like? Loops are made in many different sizes. You can wear a small loop around your neck like a necklace. You can use a loop built into a mat for under your chair cushion. Or you could run a loop around the floor boards or under the carpet of an entire room.

What are they made of? Loops are made of wire or speaker cable. They are attached to an amp of some sort. To determine the best loop system for you I recommend consulting with an audiologist if for your personal use or a team of sound engineers and audiologists if for commerical use.

Can you make your own loops? Yes you can. I encourage you to do some research on line to find out more about making your own loops.

Are loops common? Unfortunately many public venues in the US are not looped. It is a common practice to loop theaters and churches in Europe. But this has not caught on in the United States. If you would like a venue looped I encourage you to talk to the venue. You can also contact advocates for people with hearing loss. And speak with your audiologist.

Check these advocacy sites:

ODHH – Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
[check with your state]

–> in PA visit http://www.dli.state.pa.us/landi/cwp/view.asp?a=128&q=246284

Alexander Graham Bell Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing http://www.agbell.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?linkid=1

Hearing Loss Association of America http://www.hearingloss.org/

And these websites for additional information

http://www.hearingloop.org/
http://www.loopamerica.com/

Do you know of any venues in your neighborhood that are looped? Please share comments at info@hearwellcenter.com.

This blog posted by Suzanne Yoder, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology and owner of HearWell Center. Please visit our website for more information http://www.hearwellcenter.com/

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