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Hearing aid technology eliminates chatter


In nearly every public subway station, restaurant and cafe, people will notice a thin hearing loop wire installed on corners of the wall. It transmits electromagnetic signals to active hearing aid devices through a tiny receiver. Anybody with a  hearing aid can hear with great clarity directly through the aid's microphone, eliminating background noise.

"I used to detest my hearing aids, but now that they serve this second purpose, I love the way they've enriched my life," said David G. Myers, a psychology professor at Hope University who has been diagnosed with a hearing disability. Myers was so satisfied with this product that he installed it in his home and began a campaign in Michigan to advise others to do the same. 

 Despite being widely adopted in North Europe,  America is still adopting this feature due to its high cost and because   

its investment intimidates facility managers. 

"This isn't about disability rights – it's about good customer service," stated Janice Schacter Lintz, head of the Hearing Access Program, a group in New York promoting the loops. "That's a big group of customers who won't go to museums or theaters or restaurants where they can't hear. Put in a loop, and they can hear clearly without any of the bother or embarrassment of wearing a special headset."

The rudimentary technology that makes this feature possible existed decades ago and was used for relaying signals from telephones to tiny receivers called telecoil or t-coil. Telecoil are audio induction loops which directly link hearing devices to audio sources that remove background noises. 

"In many settings, like a train station, they can't give you the crystal clear clarity that you can get from a hearing loop" asserted Dr. Patricia Kricos, an audiologist at the University of Florida and a past president of the American Academy of Audiology. In addition, Christine Klessig, a retired lawyer in Central Wisconsin, states, "The joke among my friends is that the loop system sounds too good to be true, but it is. Before they installed a loop at the public library, I had to sit in the front row at lectures and try to lip-read because I missed so many words. Now I sit wherever I want and hear everything."

The Hearing Loss Assocation of America, representing the largest group with hearing disabilities, recently joined forces with the American Academy of Audiology to push for more loops to become commonplace for the public. 

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