April 26, 2018. One of the objectives of the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association is to encourage hearing accessibility. Let’s Loop PEI is a project to encourage the installation of hearing loops in public places. Over the years, people with hearing loss had experienced them at conferences off the island and found they made an enormous difference in what was heard.
What is a hearing loop? How do you explain something you’ve never installed? “Well, it’s a wire that goes around an area that feeds from the speaker system and sends the sound signal through the wire to create a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by a cochlear implant or hearing aid when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting, or through a listening device. It’s magical.”
If you went Huh? after reading that, here it is in a nutshell: A hearing loop is like having WiFi for people with hearing loss. With WiFi, you are connected anywhere in the world, through your electronic device, as long as you are in the WiFi designated area. You don’t need special cords to access, you only turn the setting on your device to access the WiFi offered. The same technology for WiFi is available here on Prince Edward Island as it is anywhere in the world.
A hearing loop works on basically the same principle, although of course it’s not an internet. Like WiFi, a hearing loop is inconspicuous, and any number of users within the looped area can use the system. People can discreetly adjust a setting on their hearing aid or cochlear implant to access the looped area, much like you would access a WiFi setting.
To give you an idea of the difference in sound with a hearing loop, here are two YouTube videos that demonstrate what a person with hearing loss experiences with or without a looping system. Check it out for yourselves:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahbz0VvlZF0 (Asking for directions at a subway booth in the New York Subway System)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3XoVrUjfaY (Listening to a hymn in church)
Per the 2012 to 2015 Canadian Health Measures Survey, 40% of Canadians have some degree of hearing loss! (See https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2016001/article/14658-eng.htm) As of April 23, 2018, the population of Canada is 36,892,069, based on United Nations estimates. (See http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/canada-population/). 40% of that figure is 14,756,827. That’s the potential number of people who can use a hearing loop in Canada.
In PEI, the population as of July 1, 2017 was estimated at 152,021. (See https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/publication/pei-population-report-2017.) 40% of the province’s population is 60,808. And this doesn’t take into account the number of tourists with hearing loss who visit and attend various events during the summer months.
Several places were interested in the project, but with no one having international certification on the island, the project sat on the back burner for a few years. While members had used a hearing loop, no one had a clue how it worked or what was needed to properly install one. Hearing loops are not new on the island. A number of places had installed them several decades ago, but then either removed them or forgot about them.
The project moved forward this year when the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association Foundation (CHHA Foundation) gave a grant to bring in looping expertise to train a few volunteers and have a few places looped so that people could have tangible proof of the difference a hearing loop can make. Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions was asked if he would be willing to help make the Let’s Loop PEI project a reality, and he said yes.
The Let’s Loop PEI project begins in May, starting with the South Shore United Church in Tryon.
In the next blog entry, we’ll go through some of the questions and answers about hearing loops and the installation of a looped system in a public space. In the meantime, if you’d like to read further on this topic, here is a link to an article written by social psychologist David Myer about why he feels churches should be installing hearing loops in churches: https://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/david-g-myers-on-hearing-loss-in-worship-an-invisible-disability
Have you been in a place with a hearing loop? Please share your experience! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our blog at https://theauralreport.wordpress.com. You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI
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© Daria Valkenburg