A friend of mine who suffers from hearing loss told me he installed a home hearing loop. Like me, he has difficulty hearing the characters of his favorite television programs. Like most of us who wear aids or cochlear implants, he invested in numerous television adaptors, which he purchased whenever he changed hearing aids. Unfortunately, he found that not all adapters helped him.

The two of us happen to have hearing aids from the same manufacturer and we use the same audiologist. I purchased my television adaptor and praised it. He had no luck with his and said the sound was mechanical, like a squeaky old microphone. All efforts to fine tune the device failed. Disappointed he returned the adaptor.

Then he made a discovery. Surfing the internet, he found companies who were installing hearing loops in the home. Most were affordable and in the same price range of a television adapter.

For those who are unfamiliar, hearing loops are devices that transmit a magnetic signal which can be picked up by a t-coil equipped hearing aid or cochlear implant. This device brings sound directly to you thus eliminating background noise and other ambient sounds. You can go on the manufacturer’s website for your hearing aid or cochlear implant to find out if your device is t-coil equipped. These days most aids and implants come with a t-coil which may have to be activated by your audiologist. Commercial loops can be found in public transportation facilities such as airports, train stations, and bus stations. Many churches and some concert halls are so equipped. If you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a concert and church service through a loop you will have declared yourself being in hearing heaven as it seems as though someone is speaking or singing directly into your ears.

Commercial hearing loops are expensive. Depending on the size of the room or building, it might cost fifty to one hundred thousand dollars or more for a high quality loop. Since the cost of loops have been prohibited in the home, most looking for a solution to hear television prefer the adapter units, which usually cost about 400.00.

However the cost of looping a single room in your home has come down. My friend purchased a unit on amazon for about 400.00, the same price as an adapter. The advantage with the loop is that you don’t have to change it each time you update your implants or aids. He said installing the loop was formidable. It took him several tries and at one point, he thought of calling in an expert. But he patiently worked his way through the instruction manual. Now he enjoys the sounds of his favorite programs in concert hall quality, he calls it.

If you are interested in learning more about hearing loops visit the Hearingloop.org website. It is chucked full of information. Perhaps having this nice added device will make your meanderings through the hearing world a little more entertaining.

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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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