May 24, 2018. When the Let’s Loop PEI Project began, we had no idea what was needed to loop a building. We only knew that hearing loops worked and would be of use to a number of people. Not surprisingly, churches were receptive to the idea of a hearing loop. Many have parishioners with hearing loss who have either stopped making the effort to come to church due to difficulties in hearing, or do come to church but are unable to follow the service.
Many churches have excellent sound amplification systems. Sadly, for people with severe hearing loss, the best sound system still won’t help with clarity and the ability to understand what is being said. Louder doesn’t mean better! Some churches provide copies of the sermon to those with hearing loss, others have presentations on a screen. There had to be a better solution, thought a number of churches.
After we received a grant from the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) Foundation to pay the travel costs of bringing in expertise to train volunteers in how to loop their facility to an international standard ‘IEC60118 compliant hearing loop’, we contacted a few places to gauge their interest in participating, willingness to provide volunteers to do the work under supervision, and willingness to pay the installation costs of the materials needed to loop a venue. Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions agreed to provide the expertise.
South Shore United Church in Tryon was willing to participate, had two volunteers – Jack Sorensen and Pieter Valkenburg – and the funding to pay their installation costs. This posting summarizes the steps taken from conception to completion.
Step 1: The Field Survey
The church was sent a sheet in which questions about the site were asked, including the floor plan, building dimensions, building construction information, ceiling height and construction, whether seating was fixed or moveable, location of sound system, and types of microphones used.
On a cold day in March, the two volunteers and I met to complete this survey.
Daria Valkenburg with Jack Sorensen in South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)
Step 2: The EMI Test
A test for electromagnetic interference (EMI) was next, and done twice in April. Bill explained that “EMI is essentially noise, typically heard as a hum that just sits in the background. If it’s excessive (> -32dB), it’s annoying and causes the hearing loop installation to not comply with the IEC standard. In such cases, the loop itself would be quite fine but the facility itself fails to meet the standard.”
First, Brenda Porter, whose hearing aids have activated telecoils, came and checked whether she heard any hums or other noises when the electrical equipment and sound system were turned on. No noise, which was a good sign.
Jack Sorensen with Brenda Porter during the EMI test using the telecoils in her hearing aids. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Bill sent us a device for a more accurate test of electromagnetic interference, so a few weeks later, volunteer Pieter Valkenburg tested the church. The test confirmed Brenda’s experience of no sound interference.
Pieter Valkenburg doing EMI test at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Step 3: The Site Evaluation
In May, Bill Droogendyk arrived on the island, and did the formal site evaluation with a group of volunteers. Wires were temporarily strung in the area to be looped, while testing was done. Bill explained that the site evaluation is “done to determine physical measurements, usage (seating arrangements), EMI, loop performance constraints (largely due to metal loss) for uniform sound volume and sound frequency – all with view on how to design an IEC60118 compliant hearing loop” Metal absorbs sound and, if not taken into account, can lead to a ‘dead zone’ for sound.
A decision was then made on the type of loop driver (amplifier) needed for the best sound. As the church hosts a number of musical events, a loop driver capable of providing clarity for music was chosen.
Pieter Valkenburg (left) and Jack Sorensen (right) loop wire between the pew rows during the site survey at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Left to right: Tom Barnes, Jack Sorensen, Bill Droogendyk, Phil Pater, Pieter Valkenburg. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Step 5: Wiring The Sanctuary
Based on the loop design determined by the site evaluation, Jack and Pieter spent hours on the floor of the sanctuary South Shore United Church, stapling wires under pews and then burying any visible wires between the floorboards so that no wires were exposed. By the way, if you were wondering, they made sure the staples didn’t go through the wire. They did it right the first time. And the wiring is basically invisible, as you can see from the photo below.
The loop wire went into a crack between two floorboards in the exposed areas of the sanctuary. Can you spot which crack the wire went in? (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Step 6: Hooking the Loop Driver to the Sound System
After the wiring was done, the loop driver (amplifier) was hooked to the church’s sound system and calibrated to the IEC60118 standard for a compliant hearing loop.
Bill Droogendyk (left) and Jack Sorensen (right) calibrate the loop driver after it’s been hooked up to the church’s sound system. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
After the technicians said everything worked, it was time for someone with hearing loss to give a verdict. As no one had tested a pocket talker that had a telecoil built in it, that was chosen for a test of the hearing loop. I tried it in various parts of the looped area and it worked perfectly.
Thumbs up for a successful hearing loop installation at South Shore United Church. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)
Smiles all around for a job well done! Left to right: Jack Sorensen, Pieter Valkenburg, Bill Droogendyk. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Step 7: Post Signage
The last step in the installation was to post signs advising that the hearing loop was installed. Stickers were placed on the pews in the looped area, and a notice with the universal logo indicating a telecoil was installed was given to the Church secretary for inclusion in the weekly bulletins.
A brochure on the ways to access a hearing loop was printed, with publication costs for the brochures paid for by a grant from the PEI Seniors Secretariat. (See The Let’s Loop PEI Project – How You Can Access An Area With A Hearing Loop for this same information.)
This was an amazing experience and everyone learned a lot about hearing loops. Our thanks to the volunteers, CHHA Foundation, PEI Seniors Secretariat, and to Bill and Wilma Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions for making this installation possible.
Our Let’s Loop PEI story continues in the next blog posting. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this blog. You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI
Follow this link to our Upcoming Events page: Upcoming Events
Follow this link to places on PEI equipped with a hearing loop: Places on PEI Equipped With A Hearing Loop
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© Daria Valkenburg