May 13, 2020. May is Better Hearing Month. With social distancing and preventative measures in place for reducing the risk of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and keeping everyone safe, it’s making hearing accessibility issues more and more relevant…. not to mention frustrating…. and bringing them to the forefront. Past blog postings have covered some of these issues and suggested solutions:
- Clear-window masks so people can see a person’s lips and use speechreading techniques (Please Encourage The Use Of Clear-Window Masks)
- Speech Transfer Systems so people can hear people behind plexiglass barriers, using hearing loop technology (See The Challenge To Hear During The Pandemic)
Being able to hear while participating in an online meeting….whether it’s Facetime with your family, Skype or Zoom for business meetings is more of a challenge these days when we are not able to meet in person due to social distancing.
I remember having online meetings in the past where some people were unable to hear well enough to follow conversations, and in the days before real time captioning apps were feasible solutions, we ended up having to type our comments and questions using instant messaging. Instant messaging is great for two people communicating, but not so great for larger groups of people on a conference call. It took a lot of time, and made for some head scratching moments as comments came in on a topic while another topic was being introduced. In the end all was sorted out, but it wasn’t an ideal way to have a meeting.
When Bill Droogendyk of Better Hearing Solutions advised that a TV room hearing loop system can also be used for computer/smartphone/tablet conference calls by using the headphone jack, it was an ‘aha’ moment for me. Last year, two uses of a hearing loop system were featured. One was the chair loop that Graham Hocking used in his car. (See Grant Awarded From Seniors Secretariat of PEI) A second explained how Rheal Leger used a chair loop to watch TV. (See “I Love My Looping Chair”)
Both uses were also explained in two YouTube videos we produced last year:
I Love My Looping Chair:
What is a Car Loop?:
I asked Bill if Rheal could use his system by connecting the loop driver to the computer instead of the TV. The answer was yes. I then asked if it would be simple to pull the connection out of the TV and into a laptop, and then back again to the TV. Technology challenged people like me need to have easy solutions! Bill explained that the answer was “Yes, but it might require a different cable (1/8″/3.5mm plugs) and a volume adjustment.” Bill noted that the cable had been included in the TV room kit that Rheal had purchased.
After trying out the new use for his chair loop, Rheal said “I sat on a chair with the looping cushion underneath and it and behold it worked! Hallelujah! Daria, I listened to the Phantom In Quarantine link you sent… lol. The sound was very clear.” (Phantom In Quarantine link for those who haven’t seen it yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w31L1cCoVYo)
Rheal Leger gets hearing loop quality sound through his laptop now. (Photo credit: Simone Belliveau)
As the additional cable for access to the laptop was a bit short, Rheal has now ordered a longer cable, which will allow him to sit anywhere in the room…. on his chair loop… to access the hearing loop for his laptop.
If you already have a chair or room hearing loop, the diagram below shows exactly what to do between the computer/tablet/smartphone: Headphone out on the computer/tablet/smartphone to line in on the HLD3 amplifier.
Bill explained further that “If you are currently using the optical cable to watch TV, then you will need to use the “audio patch cord” from the computer to the HLD3 amplifier (and could have both plugged in). If you are already using the “audio patch cord” for watching TV, you will then need to remove it from the TV and plug it into the computer.”
If you’re like me and don’t know the difference between an optical cable and an audio patch cord, Bill was kind enough to explain they can be identified by the difference in the ends of the cable.
The “audio patch cord” has ends like this:
The optical cable has ends like this:
If you still aren’t sure about hearing loops and how they can help, take a look at this explanatory poster:
So, if you are struggling to hear while on a conference call, or you just want better clarity of sound when you watch a YouTube video, there is a solution that could make a difference. Thank you to Bill Droogendyk for the information on a solution, and thank you to Rheal Leger who tested the instructions given and reported back that it worked. Send an email to email@example.com. You can also comment on this blog, or send a tweet to @HearPEI. Stay safe!
© Daria Valkenburg