For those that wear hearing aids, a hearing loop (formally called an audio induction loop) is essentially a system that is designed to link the hearing aid with a person speaking into a microphone. The loop itself produces a magnetic, wireless signal that can be picked up by the hearing aid with a telecoil fitted which is activated when the aid is set to the "T" (telecoil) setting.
The science behind how hearing loops work is actually very basic. Simply consisting of a microphone that picks up the words being spoken, as well as an amplifier and a loop cable, the system is beautiful in its simplicity.
The loop cable is placed around the perimeter of a room or area such as a shop counter or waiting room, and this acts as a transmitter for the microphone being used by a speaker. When the hearing aid is on the right setting and the loop microphone is being used, the sound is fed into an induction loop amplifier, which then drives a current into the loop.
This in turn creates a magnetic field within the loop's area, which is picked up by the telecoil that sits within most hearing aids. This means that the sound is delivered directly into the hearing aid wearer's ear, and cuts out distracting background noise.
Hearing loops are commonly found in public areas like shops or banks, where a hearing aid user might have to have a conversation with a cashier or store worker - something that can be a challenge without a hearing loop, due to the background noises that naturally occur in public places. Some businesses also use portable hearing loops so that the hard of hearing can connect in a variety of locations. You'll be able to see if an area has a hearing loop installed by the appearance of the poster featuring an outline of an ear, with short diagonal lines across it.
Along with cutting out unwanted background noise as discussed above, loop systems are also beneficial to hearing aid wearers as they require no additional equipment to hear clearly, and the sound they do receive arrives directly in the hearing aid. Hearing loops also overcome the problems that those with hearing loss face of hearing a speaker who is some distance away such as in a church or theatre.
What's more, hearing loops are very discreet, and cost no extra for the hearing aid wearer. Hearing loops work just as well no matter how many people are using the system - an added benefit for business owners and hearing aid wearers alike.
To learn more about how to set your hearing aids to the right setting to be used with a hearing loop, find your local Amplifon store and talk to one of our expert audiologists who will be happy to explain it you.