Library installs system to aid hearing impairedThe Superior Public Library recently received a grant to improve services to patrons with hearing loss by installing a small area hearing loop system at their main service desk.
The Superior Public Library recently received a grant to improve services to patrons with hearing loss by installing a small area hearing loop system at their main service desk.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 36 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. As people grow older, the percentage of those in each age category with hearing loss increases.
A hearing loop, also known as an Induction or Audio Loop, provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to T-coil or Telecoil setting. According to audiologist, Bill Holzhaeuser, “most hearing aids have a T-coil — or at least one that is available in the existing hearing aids. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 69 percent of all hearing aids dispensed in the U.S. today have Telecoil.
The hearing loop system consists of a microphone to pick up the spoken word; an amplifier which processes the signal which is then sent through the final piece; and the induction loop, an antenna that radiates the magnetic signal to the hearing aid. When the hearing aid user selects the T setting; he or she can pick up the sounds spoken into the system’s microphone instead of the hearing aid’s internal microphone. This results in improved speech understanding because the listener receives a clear signal without any background noise.
Digital hearing aids have significantly improved in the last decade, but they still do not restore hearing to normal. What most hearing aid users need is an improved signal to noise ratio. This is difficult to attain in reverberant places, such as auditoriums, churches and public spaces.
Hearing aids equipped with T-coils can help reduce this problem. When a hearing aid is set to T-coil, the instrument becomes a personalized speaker in your ear for the sounds that are picked up by the hearing loop microphone. That way the sounds are heard clearly, without distortion or background noise pick up.
If a patron is not sure if they have a hearing aid with a T-coil or if they are unsure how to enable the T-coil setting, they should ask their audiologist or hearing instrument specialist.
This grant is provided through a Library Services and Technology Act grant. Northern Waters Library Service applied for the grant on behalf of 29 libraries in eight counties in northwest Wisconsin.
“We try to find every opportunity to improve services to our patrons with disabilities,” said Library Director Susan Heskin. “We take pride in providing equal access to all members of our community and this grant will help us achieve that goal.”