Hearing Loops in Library Systems

Hearing loops in library systems are an essential part of reducing barriers to services for library patrons.  Without hearing loops in library systems, persons living with hearing loss can find library services difficult or embarrassing to utilize.

What is the first rule of thumb in a library?  Be quiet!  Now imagine having hearing loss and attempting to communicate in a library.  Perhaps you are at the information desk and you asking where a specific book is located.   The librarian will provide detailed instructions, in a soft tone, because that’s what you do in a library – talk quietly.  Unfortunately speaking softly makes for an incredibly challenging situation for persons living with hearing loss.   In the library, a conversation in an elevated volume brings disapproving eyes and a “shhhhh!”

Hearing loops in library systems are an essential part of reducing barriers to services for library patrons.  Without hearing loops in library systems, persons living with hearing loss can find library services difficult or embarrassing to utilize.  The information desk is just one of many locations where hearing loops can help users hear better in libraries.  Library hearing loop systems should be present in a variety of forms, such as large area hearing loop systems in public meeting rooms and small area loop systems, such as counter loops at information desks.

One of the most common locations for hearing loops in a library is the community or meeting room.  Most libraries have meeting room(s) that are available to the public for use to host or engage in seminars, trainings, and even government functions, such as such as city council meetings.  Most of these rooms also have a microphone and/or audio-visual system in them, which means they are also legally required to offer hearing assistive technology to users to meet ADA regulations related to access for persons with hearing loss.  In new libraries, hearing loops are becoming the standard hearing assistive technology offered because of the high level of user-satisfaction and the ability for patrons to use the system without the librarian or library workers having to maintain and checkout additional equipment.

It is essential for librarians and library workers to assess their local library resources to make sure that hearing assistive technology is present for the community.  A counter hearing loop is a very cost-effective way to help persons with hearing loss access the basic services of the library.  If a large area hearing loop is not in the library budget now, a lower cost system such as FM or IR may be a short-term solution to ensure compliance with the ADA and make sure that all library patrons can access services, such as use of the community room.

Assist2Hear has installed hearing loops in many library systems.  In the Front Range of Colorado, these hearing loop locations include:

For more information about what it takes to install a hearing loop in your local library, give Assist2Hear a call today!  We offer the free site assessments for hearing loop systems and can also provide you with a demonstration counter loop to test at the information desk or other point of service.  Additionally, Assist2Hear also offers training resources to library staff about hearing loss and how to effectively communicate with persons with hearing loss.

New Hearing Loop In Cheyenne Wyoming

First United Methodist Church Installs New Hearing Loop

For those living with hearing loss, attending religious services can often be a challenging experience. In Cheyenne, the First United Methodist Church has taken a step towards making worship more accessible. After much research, the church decided that hearing loop technology would be the best fit to improve hearing accessibility. They chose Assist2Hear to install a hearing loop system for worshippers – the newest hearing loop in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

What is a Hearing Loop System?

An induction hearing loop system (also known as an “assistive listening loop”) uses magnetic induction to transmit sound directly to hearing aids or hearing implants equipped with telecoil (T-coil) technology. The majority of hearing devices have a telecoil program available, but users are often unaware it exists until they ask their hearing professional to activate it. For worshipers without a telecoil-enabled hearing device, receivers with headsets or earbuds are available to use.

How the Hearing Loop System Was Installed

The Cheyenne church underwent several tests by Assist2Hear to ensure optimal hearing loop installation. These included surveys of construction and materials transitions, tests for electrical magnetic interference, metal loss, and frequency variation. The architecture of the church divides the sanctuary into three distinct segments – a wide semi-circular set of pews in the front half, two sets of narrower rectangular pews in the back half, and the choir. To ensure accessibility for all, the church chose to install the hearing loop system in all three sections. As a result, every worshipper with hearing loss is able to benefit from the hearing loop, regardless of where they sit!

Each section’s unique layout and flooring characteristics required the use of a different design and installation technique. A figure eight loop design using flat wire installed underneath the carpet covers the back section. The front segment’s construction and narrowness allowed for a perimeter loop with the wire hidden behind the trim of the wall. The choir, located behind the altar, was installed using a mix of wire types to disguise the wire. All systems feed to the audio booth located in the sanctuary. Assist2Hear chose Contacta, Inc hearing loop amplifiers for the installation, as they are the highest quality product on the market today.

Rave Reviews for the Hearing Loop System

The new Cheyenne hearing loop has received much positive feedback from church members. They report that the sound is clear and it is much easier to understand the sermon. Additionally, congregants with hearing loss also note how much easier it is to listen easily and enjoy the sermon. The new hearing loop is truly a blessing to their ears!

First United Methodist’s Tradition of Inclusivity

The church has a long history of being a welcoming environment for members of the Cheyenne community. The church dates its history back to just a few months after the city of Cheyenne came into existence. In 2017, the church celebrated its 150th anniversary. With the installation of the new hearing loop system, the oldest Methodist church in Wyoming continues its legacy of being a pioneer!

If you are looking for a church in Cheyenne that is hearing loss friendly, the First United Methodist Church is an excellent choice. With its long history rooted in the Cheyenne community, the church provides a welcoming environment for all. Come and experience the benefits of hearing loop technology at the First United Methodist Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming!

Hearing loops are present in Methodist churches throughout the United States. To locate other hearing loops by Assist2Hear, check out the hearing loop installations page on www.Assist2Hear.com.

New Colorado Hearing Loop: Wheeler Opera House

Historic Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado       Installs Hearing Loop System

Wheeler Opera House

Assist2hear is excited to announce the final completion of another new Colorado hearing loop installation at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado. The installation includes hearing loops in both the orchestra and balcony of the historic Aspen music venue.  The décor of the theater now consists of new, lush, carpet in the aisles and original flooring within the seating area of the orchestra, and full carpet in the balcony. The hearing loop design for both segments is a phased array system.

A huge part of hearing loop installation in theaters is maintaining the integrity of a venue’s décor, particularly when working with a historic theater. The Wheeler Opera House opened its doors to the Aspen community in 1889, making it 132-years old today.  The necessity for a phased array installation in historic venues such as this requires the experience and custom finishing expertise that only Assist2Hear brings to the table, with over ten years of Contacta field-certified hearing loop installation

Phased arrays hearing loop systems ensure a uniform sound for all users, regardless of seating location. They are a best practice for large theaters due to key factors such as size and rise of seating.  The Wheeler Opera House required a phased array design in its orchestra because of the large size and the in the balcony primarily because of its rise.  Theater patrons will have to look hard to find any indication of wires, as they are well hid either underneath carpet or seats “disguised as a shadow”.

What does “disguised as a shadow” look like?  We hope you will go, enjoy the theater’s new hearing loop, and see for yourself.  The Wheeler Opera House reopens its doors to the Aspen Community for the Aspen Music Festival taking place July 1st through August 22nd.  For more upcoming events at which to enjoy the Wheeler’s new hearing loop, visit AspenShowTix.com.

Fireworks and Hearing Loss

Fireworks and Hearing loss

Fireworks are fun but the can also cause hearing loss.

As the 4th of July approaches, plans for fireworks and festivities abound. Even though a huge part of the fun of fireworks is their explosion and the sound it makes, it is incredibly important to take safety precautions when setting them off. Fireworks, as well as other loud noises, can be extremely dangerous to one’s hearing. If not carefully enjoyed, fireworks can cause hearing loss that will last a lifetime.  The good news is that with two simple considerations, you can prevent hearing loss this 4th of July.

The closer you are to the fireworks display, the louder it is going to be. While it is fun to where the action is, it is also important to remain a safe distance from fireworks to minimize the sound and potential for damage to hearing. According to the World Health Organization, a safe distance from fireworks for an adult is approximately 30 to 45 feet. Be careful though because the safe distance for children is much higher; children need to be at least 150-180 feet away to minimize the possibility of hearing damage due to fireworks. To put that into perspective, 94 feet is the length of an NBA-size basketball court.

Wear Ear Protection
Explosive sounds, like firecrackers, are even more hazardous to your hearing than other loud noises. When igniting fireworks, it is incredibly important to wear ear protection. A variety of ear protection options exist, from cheap foam earplugs available at the gas station to midrange and high-end noise-canceling headphones. Headphones on their own are generally not recommended unless they cover the ears in their entirety. If noise-canceling functionality is not available, it is recommended to use a foam earplug, in addition to the headset. Oh – and we forgot to mention using one’s noise-canceling Airpods works great too!

Resources for Hearing Loss

If you need help due to a hearing loss incident with fireworks or are simply experiencing hearing loss in general, there are places that can help. A simple Google search can locate a local audiologist who can provide a hearing test to quantify how much hearing loss is present and what to do next. In many cities, there are chapters of the Hearing Loss Association of America (https://www.hearingloss.org), which can connect people with hearing loss to local resources, as well as provide a wealth of information and support for people experiencing hearing loss.

Don’t let accidental over-exposure to fireworks on the 4th of July affect you or your child’s ability to hear normally for the rest of their life. Have fun, but be safe!

Dear Audiology Graduates of 2021

Congratulations! You have studied and done the work. Now you’re ready to make a difference.
And the hearing loss world is ready for your help because we have some big problems.
The hearing loss epidemic is growing and not enough people are paying attention. The fact is that many people are still embarrassed of their hearing loss. It still takes most people an average of seven years to admit the problem and visit an audiologist. Every third person over the age of 65 who attended your graduation struggled to understand the speeches because of a lack of hearing access, but most likely won’t complain!!
Hearing loss is an invisible disability. That’s where you come in.
First Stop: Hearing Loss Association 
I hope that one of your first decisions is to join your local Hearing Loss Association of America. Then get your friends and family to join. And eventually your patients. Before you know it, your local HLAA has a much stronger voice and helps the city become more hearing-friendly and inclusive. We have to start locally to fix this national problem.
Second: Post It
Build your professional social media accounts right away and find your voice. Make sure everyone you love knows what you do for a living and to reach out to you if they or anyone they know is having trouble hearing. Let this not just be your career, let this be your passion.
Third: Make a Plan
Try to choose a goal project for your first year. To get you started here are a few ideas.
• Raise funds for a theater hearing loop.
• Develop a great PowerPoint and offer a free Hearing Loss presentation for local companies.
• Host a “Quiet Dinner Night” at a local restaurant.
• Help teach hearing loss prevention at local elementary and high schools.
• Make an appointment with your state representatives to discuss the importance of hearing access in public spaces.
• Become an “Audiology Adviser” for your HLAA to answer basic questions for members before and after each meeting.
• Develop a national hashtag.
Congratulations again, audiology graduates and good luck! You can help remove the national stigma of hearing loss with your ideas and plans.
In the wise words of Arthur Ashe, I encourage you to “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
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