A staggering 80% of people over the age of 85 have some sort of hearing loss. Yet, only 15% of seniors who could benefit from a hearing aid actually use one. Did you know that there is a 54% increased risk of death associated with moderate to severe hearing loss? It’s a silent epidemic that hasn’t been fully addressed. Until now.

If you haven’t lived with a hearing loss yourself, you may not understand how deeply socially isolating it can be. Every day, hearing loss sufferers experience a lack of social engagement and interaction which can profoundly reduce their wellbeing and quality of life.

Assistive listening systems like hearing loops have become widespread to combat hearing loss in public settings. So, what exactly is a hearing loop and are they really the best way to fight hearing loss? Are there other ways to improve hearing in the group environment?

What Are Hearing Loops?

Hearing loops, often referred to as audio induction loops, are a special type of sound system for use with t-coil enabled hearing aids. They are the default assistive listening technology in many countries and are increasing in popularity around the world.

While hearing aids can be helpful in quiet, one-on-one environments, difficulty hearing in noisy public spaces is still a major problem for individuals with hearing loss.

A hearing loop is a physical loop of wire cable installed in a room which transmits sound to hearing aids set to the “T” (Telecoil) setting.

Hearing loops are often found in large gathering areas such as houses of worship, arenas and classrooms as well as in public places like airports, train stations, and service counters. If you see the symbol below in a public space, you’re in a room that is enabled for hearing loops.

Hearing Loop Effectiveness

While hearing aids can be helpful in quiet, one-on-one environments, difficulty hearing in noisy public spaces is still a major problem for individuals with hearing loss.

Hearing loops can offer those suffering from hearing loss significantly improved sound clarity in large crowds. only 14% of 800 participants rated their ability to hear in a public venue without a hearing loop as an 8, 9, or 10 (1 = “heard nothing”, 10 = “heard every word”).

However, “when listening with the hearing loop, 86% of respondents rated their experience as an 8 or higher.”

Costs

The cost of a loop system varies greatly depending on the size and construction of the room. Smaller installations at places like commercial window counters or small churches can cost $2,500 to $4,500. A larger venue like a senior center, house of worship, or auditorium can range from $5,000 to $35,000. Beyond that, a large performing arts center or stadium may cost anywhere between $100,000 and $150,000.

How a Hearing Loop Works

A hearing loop transmits audio directly from an audio source (microphone, music player, television) to the audience members’ hearing aids. The induction loop around the room creates a magnetic field. This reduces the volume of distracting background noise and results in greatly improved hearing.

Audiologist, Tao Cui, addressed the Advantages and Disadvantages of Hearing Loops:

Hearing Loop Advantages

  • Increase the signal level of T-coil enabled hearing aids
  • Reduce background noise and reverberation
  • Improve the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Provide hearing aid users with a cosmetic and privacy option so that they are indistinguishable from the other members of the audience.
  • Ease of use: simple and user-friendly for people of all ages to operate
  • Great for large, public venues and serves an unlimited number of people

…many individuals suffer from some level of hearing loss and do not have hearing aids. Unfortunately, this makes the hearing loop system, and the clarity it offers, of no help to these individuals.

Hearing Loop Disadvantages

  • No common standard for induction loops for public places
  • Not designed for music and higher frequencies, so distortion can occur
  • Telecoil orientation is important to quality of signal and sound
  • Requires the installation of a fixed loop within the designated area that is not easily moved
  • Other digital devices can interfere with the signal which produces a buzzing sound for the user
  • Require hearing aids which are expensive and can easily get misplaced. Only 15% of those who can benefit from hearing aids actually wear them.

The Portable (and More Effective!) Alternative: Eversound

Hearing loops are an extremely helpful assistive listening tool for individuals with t-coil enabled hearing aids, offering improved sound clarity and reduced background noise, particularly during speaking events.

However, many individuals suffer from some level of hearing loss and do not have hearing aids. Unfortunately, this makes the hearing loop system, and the clarity it offers, of no help to these individuals.

The good news is that hearing loop systems are not the only way to improve hearing for hearing aid users in the group environment. For example, Eversound provides a great alternative (even a compliment) to a hearing loop system. Eversound is a wireless headphone system that connects directly to any audio source and provides enhanced sound clarity to every audience member, whether or not they wear hearing aids.

Most Popular Eversound Uses

  • Bingo
  • Music Therapy
  • Movies
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Presentations
  • Worship
  • Bus Trips & Scenic Tours
  • …and more!

With Eversound, every listener can fine tune their listening experience using the ergonomic volume dial on every pair of headphones. Eversound is also compact and portable, enabling use across several rooms in a community–even on busses and in the great outdoors!

You can use Eversound for an exercise class in the morning, on a bus tour in the afternoon, and at a movie event in the evening! In a 6-month study, resident engagement increased by 28% while using the Eversound system.

“We have residents who formerly had stopped self feeding, now feeding themselves again while listening to music with the headphones during meals…”

Courtney Allenson, Activities Director at The Residence at Otter Creek, explained, “Now that we use the Eversound system, this gentlemen is able to hear every word spoken, every note played, and every direction given.”

Some of the most impactful experiences with Eversound have revolved around music. One Commonwealth Senior Living community shared their experience:

“We have residents who formerly had stopped self feeding, now feeding themselves again while listening to music with the headphones during meals, perhaps as a result of the music and decreased background sounds. Other hard of hearing residents appear far more engaged in watching movies, as they can now hear what is being spoken better. I feel that using the Eversound system improves the quality of life for our dementia resident population.”

Conclusion

Hearing loops offer a great experience for those in induction loop certified areas, but are only beneficial to those with a t-coil enabled hearing aid. Many venues are installing them because they are not aware of other solutions, until now. Eversound offers a portable, engaging, and more affordable way for senior communities, senior centers, and houses of worship to improve quality of life for their audience members.

For more information on Eversound, check out our website.

For more resources on hearing loss, hearing loops, induction loops, and T-coils below:

Hearing Loop

Price $$$ $
ADA Compliant checkmark checkmark
Voice Friendly checkmark checkmark
Music Friendly x checkmark
Available to All Residents x checkmark
Portability (Other Rooms, Outdoors, Bus Tours) x checkmark
Hearing Aids T-Coil Required Hearing Aid Compatible
Installation Required Yes No
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