Imagine your patients being able to simply flip a switch and hear much better in difficult-to-hear situations. This scenario does not have to be a line item on your holiday wish list. Hearing loops turn any t-coil equipped hearing instrument into a personal listening system, providing hearing instrument wearers with a significantly improved signal-to-noise ratio for the specific purposes of maximizing speech understanding. The concept of a loop is not new nor is it rocket science; unfortunately, loop technology has not been widely embraced in America as compared to Europe and other regions.
There are a number of resources available to help audiologists advocate hearing loop technology. HearingLoop.org is a good resource for audiologists to learn more about how to start a hearing loop initiative. The Fox Valley Hearing Loop, LLC of Oshkosh, Wisconsin was established by Dr. Juliette Sterkens, AuD and her husband Max to promote affordable installation of hearing loops in area churches and public meeting places to enable hearing instrument wearers to hear clearly. The Fox Valley Hearing Loop website is a content-rich site that provides information for audiologists, businesses, and churches with links to useful resources and FAQs about loops. Check out Dr. Sterken’s most recent letter-to-the-editor appearing in The Hearing Journal (Dec 2010) on this topic and be sure to sign-up for her bi-monthly “Let’s Get Looped” newsletter by e-mailing her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actively engage in educating your patients about hearing loops by installing a hearing loop system in your waiting or counseling room. For example, the Field Teleloop System (pictured left) is an inexpensive TV/stereo amplifier system that transmits sound via a wire loop installed around the perimeter of the room directly to the t-coil of a hearing instrument. With the hearing instrument in the t-coil mode, the patient will hear the TV or stereo directly via their hearing instruments! If you prefer more flexibility in where and how to demonstrate hearing loops, consider investing ina portable system such as the Sound Shuttle (pictured right). It is a fully portable, rechargeable loop system equipped with a built-in microphone; when placed close to the user (within 2-3 feet), the Sound Shuttle will generate the necessary electromagnetic field for the user’s t-coil to pick up the signal detected by the microphone. Unlike the Field Teleloop System, the Sound Shuttle can easily be transported from one room to another to effectively demonstrate the power of looping to patients. So, get LOOPED in December and throughout the new year! Your patients will thank you!