Hearing Loops at Home: Helping the Hard of Hearing During Isolation
It’s fair to say that these unprecedented times are taking their toll on us all. Isolation can be a lonely experience and with lockdown enforced to protect the health of everyone, we’re having to find new ways to stay connected with our loved ones, as well as fresh methods to keep ourselves entertained within confinements of our own home.
As millions around the world turn to technology as the primary solution, this challenge can be greater still for the hard of hearing. Even now, as the world begins to take small steps towards normality, many of society’s more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly will remain largely confined to their own homes. With this in mind, it’s never been more important to make sure that your home loop system is installed and functioning properly.
What is a Hearing Loop?
A hearing loop, also known as an induction loop system, or an induction loop for short, is a system used by people who rely on hearing aids in order to hear clearly, particularly in ‘busy’ environments, those with challenging acoustics or places where sound may be distorted.
Commercially, hearing loops are used in a wide range of spaces, from offices, lecture theatres, and places of worship to arenas, stadiums, theatres and many others. From a domestic perspective, a home induction loop can significantly enhance everyday living from making and receiving phone calls to enjoying television, the radio and more.
How Do Hearing Loops Work?
Hearing loops use magnetic fields to transmit audio signals directly into a hearing aid, which enhances sound quality by removing background noise, reverberation and other sound distortion. A hearing loop system can be understood as consisting of two main parts; the transmitter and the receiver. As you might expect, the transmitter picks up sounds which are then passed directly onto the receiver; the hearing aid. This process can be broken down into five simple steps:
- A microphone is used to pick up audio signals, such as spoken word or sound from an audio system.
- These sound signals are then transmitted to an audio induction loop driver, essentially an amplifier, which in turn delivers the signal to a loop cable by use of a current.
- The loop cable in question refers to a piece of copper wire that runs around the perimeter of a room or specific area, within which the listening audience is located. The loop cable then produces a magnetic field to transmit the audio signal to the receiver.
- This magnetic field is then picked up by a small coil within the individual’s hearing aid(s). This coil is more commonly referred to as a telecoil, or a T-coil.
- The hearing aid delivers the uncompromised sound directly into the ear canal in an intelligible manner, allowing for clearer, enhanced hearing experience.
How to Install a Hearing Loop at Home
There are a few things to consider when carrying out a hearing loop system installation. The loop amplifier should be placed close to the source of the sound and, where possible, connected directly to it using the scart or audio output. If this isn’t possible, you will also need to position a microphone both to the sound source (for example a television) and the amplifier, both of which can then be plugged into the mains socket.
The trickiest part of installation installing the copper loop wire. The simplest method is to do this at skirting board level (loop wire can be routed over doorways and windows), but you should take time to ensure that the wire is safely and securely installed so as not to risk damage or cause a potential trip hazard. With that said, although home induction loops are relatively straightforward in the way that they operate, generally, it is not advised that you attempt the installation yourself.
As with many things, the best option is always to get an experienced professional to carry out your hearing loop home installation for you. This will often involve an initial visit of your home in order to establish your personal needs and requirements, along with an assessment of your living space, so that a bespoke solution can be created.
How much will it cost?
Frustratingly, this is often one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ scenarios. Installation costs depend on several factors, including:
- Your hearing loop system/equipment price
- The size/type of area that needs covering
- The installer you select to conduct the work
Whilst counter-top models are often considerably cheaper, larger-scale projects with bespoke solutions can end up costing anything from £1,500 upwards for a full survey, design and installation. Hearing Loop’s domestic induction loops aim to cater for all requirements and budgets, ranging from just under £100 without installation costs, to around the £675 mark for portable systems.
Coping in Isolation
Hearing Loops for TV & Audio
With social distancing in full-swing, many of us are relying on audio entertainment to keep us sane in the coming months. From watching our favourite TV programmes to enjoying the soothing sounds of the radio or indulging in old record collections, induction loop systems are the most effective way of enjoying some of our favourite pastimes. For many elderly people living in our communities, this can often give them a sense of company and play an important role in combating feelings of loneliness, which are perhaps more prominent now than ever.
In the modern era, it’s simpler than ever to find a solution that’s right for you and your family. Although it’s not yet possible to purchase a television with a built-in hearing loop, available options are becoming increasingly flexible and TV and audio induction loops can be installed for use either with or without a hearing aid, making it easier than ever to enjoy your favourite shows and sounds.
While hearing loops will help with conversations and audio enjoyment inside of our own homes, many of us are sadly having to spend extended time away from our families as a result of the lockdown. Phone calls, online video calls and messaging platforms have become priceless for helping us to stay connected and, while for most of us these just provide a much-needed means of staying in touch, they are also an invaluable way for families to check on the well-being of more vulnerable relatives.
For the hard of hearing this can be complicated, but thankfully, there are plenty of tools available to help. Video calls in particular allow for direct communication and make it possible to lip-read, but where quality isn’t fantastic this can still be tricky. Some platforms, such as Skype’s translator, offer a live caption facility which is really useful in these scenarios.
For the less tech-savvy, options are also available for more traditional communication methods. These include handsets designed for the hearing impaired, as well as telephone amplifiers, ring signallers and text telephones.
Hearing Aids In The Garden
Garden spaces provide a vital means of enjoying some fresh air during the lockdown. Whether it’s gardening and weeding or outdoor maintenance, such as giving the fence a much-needed coat of paint, gardens have become the default method for escaping the confines of our home and staying connected with nature and the outdoors. Again, this is more important still for the elderly and those who are less mobile and unable to leave the safety of their own homes to enjoy some daily exercise in public spaces like as parks.
Although this doesn’t relate to hearing loops as such, hearing aids can help to build an even stronger connection with nature for the hard of hearing, from the sounds of birds to the rustling of leaves. Of course, you should take extra care to keep your hearing aids clean and dry so as to avoid damage caused by water or dirt. This can be done by simply making sure that your hearing aids are properly fitted and by cleaning your hands before making any adjustments.
It’s always best to remove your hearings ends prior to any noisier garden maintenance such as mowing the lawn or trimming hedges, or if your garden is located next to a busy, noisy road. But for the most part, they can help to make a calming experience even more therapeutic.
Repairs & Maintenance
If your hearing loop system is broken and in need of repair, it’s probably more important now than ever before to replace it. At Hearing Loop, we’re committed to doing everything we can to help the hard of hearing through this testing time. From home installations and repairs & maintenance to assisted living technologies, we’ll work hard to understand your personal requirements and deliver the hearing solution that works best for you. All repair work is carried out in accordance with manufacturer warranties and best practices.
If you’d like additional help finding the best induction loop system to suit your needs, to enquire about an installation, or for more information about any of our other services, please get in touch today.