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Home » Innovations » Loop Systems Clear the Air for People with Hearing Loss

The recent passing of Bill C-81 by Parliament is exciting news for the hard-of-hearing community. Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, helps to promote awareness of the assistive listening technologies that are available for use in places such as churches, theatres, retail outlets, and government buildings — anywhere where large group or one-to-one communication is difficult.

Assistive listening systems are a hearing aid user’s best friends. One such technology is the audio induction loop. In simple terms, the induction loop is a system that allows electronic audio sources to be wirelessly connected to a hearing aid’s built-in T-coil receiver, which is also known as a telecoil (from “telephone coil”). At present, approximately 75% of hearing aids, and all cochlear implants, have the T-coil receiver built in.

“Hearing aids do a great job of making sounds louder, but not necessarily clearer, in noisy environments,” explains Jacob Hogge, Sales Supervisor at Advanced Listening, a leading provider of loop systems with a head office in BC. “Loop systems allow those with hearing loss to participate in their environment comfortably.”

Assistive listening systems are a hearing aid user’s best friend.

Other technologies are also available, including FM systems, infrared hearing systems, Wi-Fi hearing aids, and Bluetooth hearing aids. Each has its specific uses as assistive listening devices, but each requires either separate receivers or a smartphone app, or in the case of Bluetooth, is limited in that it’s only meant to stream personal devices. But the grandfather of them all is the induction loop system. With the T-coil receiver already built in to most hearing aids and no frequency to change or “pairing” required, the induction loop is the universal standard.

Hugh Hetherington, who has severe high-frequency hearing loss and has worn hearing aids for more than 20 years, has experienced the benefits of loop systems firsthand. “Even with them, I find it difficult to hear clearly from a distance or in noisy spaces,” he says. By contrast, he has found “amazing clarity” at meetings and conferences where loop systems have been installed. “Reverberation, echo, and distance are the main enemies for people with hearing loss,” he explains. “Loop systems are the best way to solve these issues.”

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