If you struggle to hear, you know that the worst place to be is in a large, crowded area, like a train station, a shopping mall, a movie theatre, or a concert hall. Large, open places with high ceilings create a lot of echoes, and the hum of the crowd of people comes from every side, making it hard for you to focus on what you want to hear. Even with hearing aids, big venues can be challenging, since programs like noise reduction, directionality, and speech enhancement can get thrown off in these wide-open spaces.
Hearing Loops: An Accessible Assistive Listening Option
You’re in a theatre about to watch a show, and you’ve been struggling to have a conversation with the friend sitting beside you. Your hearing aids are picking up on the people chatting in front of you, rather than what your friend is saying, making it hard to hear. The lights go down, and you’re glad you’ll finally be able to concentrate on one person. But the PA system has an echo, and even though your hearing aid is powerful, the stage is far away and distracting sounds are so much closer, so you’re having trouble understanding anything.
That’s where a hearing loop system comes in! This technology allows your hearing aid to pick up the audio signals from the PA system, and play them right into your ears. Copper wires are placed in the floor or walls of large venues, and signals from the PA system are sent through these wires. Your hearing aids can pick up on the electromagnetic waves, and give you the sounds up close and personal, rather than having to rely on the sound coming from the speakers at the front of the room. All the unnecessary background sounds will fade, since you’re not trying to focus on sounds coming from across the room.
T-Coil Hearing Aids: Looping into Sound
Not all venues have hearing loop systems built into the walls, and not all hearing aids have the technology to receive the signals. However, new buildings are being constructed with hearing loop technology, and most new hearing aids are designed to work with hearing loop systems using a t-coil design. This t-coil, or telecoil, is a small copper wire built right into your hearing aid. To connect to the hearing loop system, all you have to do is activate the t-coil program on your hearing aids, and it will start transmitting the electromagnetic sound waves, so you’ll hear everything perfectly. The whole system is completely wireless, and very discreet, making this a cool assistive listening device that does far more than you’re expecting.
The Missouri Theatre
The historic Missouri Theatre has long been a landmark, but it’s been in need of some upgrades for a while. Dr. James and Carol Roever, who were recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts, worked tirelessly to raise funds for the much-needed improvements. The change they’re most excited about is installing hearing loop technology throughout the theatre, so no matter where you sit, you’re guaranteed great sound. If you don’t have a t-coil hearing aid, you can check out a lanyard for the evening, so you’ll be able to tap into the hearing loop system with that.
Renovations are taking place this January, and come a few years after other renovations that improved upholstery and carpeting in the venue. The upgrades to the PA system should be completed in time for the Performing Arts Association presentation of “The Inspiration of Broadway” happening on January 27th. “We’re just delighted that this is in progress. We’ll be really happy at the end of January to communicate to our donors that the money they gave was well-spent,” Dr. James Roever says.
Many new buildings, or renovations like the one happening at the Missouri Theatre, are being designed with hearing loop systems to make them accessible for everyone. Transportation centers like bus stations and airports often have hearing loops to make sure no one misses a connection. Concert halls, auditoriums, performance venues, and even churches are all becoming more accessible to those with hearing loss.
Visit Us at Hearing Health Care Center
Are you struggling with hearing loss? Do you currently have hearing aids and want to upgrade to ones with telecoil technology? If you want to learn more, visit us today at Hearing Health Care Center for the best in hearing consultation, testing, and advice.