Friday July 19, 2013
Main Library rolls out new hearing loop technology for hearing impaired
For people with hearing loss, a crowded room with a microphone and speakers can be a very difficult environment for hearing clearly. Fan motors, fluorescent lights, or just the intermittent coughing and conversations of other people can make listening to a program nearly impossible. Now, the Louisville Free Public Library’s Main Auditorium is one place where hearing impaired patrons with modern hearing aids can enjoy programs without any such interference.
This morning, Mayor Greg Fischer and Library Director Craig Buthod demonstrated the new “hearing loop” technology at the Main Library downtown; 301 York Street.
“Thanks to the installation of the hearing loop,” said Library Director Craig Buthod, “the Main Library’s auditorium will now be a place where those with hearing loss can be full participants in the Library’s programs.”
“It is always our goal for all citizens to be able to access city services and information and enjoy our city’s wealth of arts, entertainment and culture as fully as possible,” Fischer said. “I applaud the library for taking a leadership role in offering this technology.”
What is hearing loop technology?
The technology is straightforward and relatively inexpensive. A ribbon of copper wire (the “loop”) is laid under the carpet and linked to a special amplifier connected to the auditorium’s sound system. The amplifier emits electromagnetic signals that can be picked up by a tiny receiver called a telecoil already built into 70% of hearing aids and cochlear implants sold today. When the receiver is turned on, the hearing aid receives only the signal from the induction loop and none of the background noise.
To use a hearing loop, patrons need only to flip a switch on their hearing aids to activate the telecoil. Usually, no additional receiver is needed. Using a telecoil and hearing loop together is seamless, cost-effective, unobtrusive, and does not require the use of additional equipment or devices.
This technology is not new and has been widely used in Europe for decades. The United States has been slow to adopt, but with a growing number of baby boomers now experiencing hearing loss, more businesses and public venues are beginning to implement hearing loop technology. The Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Academy of Audiology have been among the biggest advocates for this technology. The Library’s announcement of its new hearing loop coincides with a regional conference of The Hearing Loss Association of America here in Louisville July 19 and 20.
Today, 1 in 5 Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear. And there is a direct link between age and hearing loss, with 30% of adults between ages 65 and 74 having significant hearing impairment. Few Louisville facilities offer hearing loops for this population. This launch event is meant not only to publicize this important new feature for visitors and patrons of the Library. It is also intended as a demonstration for the public and for local operators of large gathering places, like churches, theaters, and government buildings. The Library is proud to serve as a “beta tester” for anyone thinking of installing this remarkable technology in their facility.
Installation of the hearing loop at the Main Library was made possible through donations to the Library Foundation. To learn more about the Library and its programs and services, visit us online at LFPL.org or call (502) 574-1611.