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Telecoils, Hearing Loops, & Airports

Telecoils, Hearing Loops, & Airports

Time for Vacay!

After being grounded for 2 years because of the pandemic, travelers are escaping to far-off lands as summer vacation time is upon us!

News reports of flight delays fill our social media as we see pictures of line-ups and crowds of disgruntled folks at airports – the patient, quiet days of a calm home-based life already forgotten.

Amidst this hustle and bustle enter the 1 in 4 people with some degree of hearing loss. How do they navigate this post-pandemic confusion on top of the typical pre-trip angst?

Get in the Loop

The answer is hearing loop systems. Don’t get me wrong, hearing loops are not a magical fix, but they certainly reduce communication barriers for many hearing aid and cochlear implant users.

Hearing loops come in different forms, with the most common being perimeter or room induction loop systems. By running the wire around the edges of the room, the whole space is covered by the electromagnetic field. These loops cover an entire room, which means they can be used in offices, schools, places of worship, convention centers, concert halls, theatres, and, of course, airports. The loop technology works by sending a magnetic signal that is processed by the telecoil receiver in hearing aids and cochlear implants, essentially directing clear sound directly to people’s ears. It is important to note that not all hearing aids have telecoil technology.

Also known as induction loop systems, these have been installed at airports in central Europe, the Far East, Australia and the United States. In Canada? Implementing this technology is a slow process.

Alberta’s Airports

I searched high and low for evidence of hearing loops at the Edmonton International Airport and only found a case study from 2018 where phase 1 of a project saw the installation of ‘Above the Counter’ Loop Systems installed at the airport information desks, along with clear signage to indicate their presence. Counter loops are wireless loops that work within a smaller space, so they are perfect for one-on-one conversations. Upon further investigation, I was informed that the hearing loop is only at one information desk and that the second phase of this project, installing large area systems (so the gate calls are easily heard) was interrupted by the pandemic.  It appears the Edmonton airport is now moving to a visual paging system that includes 21 screens throughout the airport.  While this is not ideal, as there are many screens in airports, the information is visually available.

Calgary’s international airport boasts hearing loop technology in all its InfoCentres. It was donated to The Calgary Airport Authority by the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. However, there is no large area system in place.

Stay Informed

In a November 2021 article from Healthy Hearing, the continued relevance of hearing aid telecoil technology is discussed.  The article claims that in the United States, Maryland passed a law in 2021 mandating that hearing loops be installed in state-funded projects. New Mexico also signed a law that requires audiologists to educate their patients on telecoil technology. While many hearing aids are available without telecoils now, it is important to ask your audiologist about them. Hearing loops in public settings all over the world are a solution that removes communication barriers and makes life (and especially travelling) more enjoyable for everyone.

Can Any Business get a Loop?

Counter Loops are easy and affordable hearing loop solutions, especially for smaller businesses or for any reception area. See this item here at https://estore.deafandhearalberta.ca/collections/counter-loops 

Contact equipment@deafandhearalberta.ca to learn about counter loops and other solutions to keep your business in the know for all things hearing!

Next article Breaking Down Communication Barriers - Bring on the Tech!

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