Hearing loops, or induction loops, are a type of assistive listening system (ALS) that transmit sound directly to a listener’s telecoil-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implants for improved clarity and understanding. Hearing loops deliver intelligible, distortion-free speech and sound in environments where distance, ambient noise, and challenging acoustics otherwise make listening and understanding with hearing aids and cochlear implants virtually impossible.
Technically known as audio frequency induction loop systems (AFILS), hearing loops consist of a special amplifier and a copper wire that transmits sound via a magnetic field. Any hearing device with a manually accessible telecoil becomes a wireless receiver in the hearing loop. Hearing loops work in any size venue or location, from a large auditorium to a taxi or an elevator.
"Technically known as audio frequency induction loop systems (AFILS), hearing loops consist of a special amplifier and a copper wire that transmits sound via a magnetic field. Any hearing device with a manually accessible telecoil becomes a wireless receiver in the hearing loop."
Telecoils provide many people with hearing loss what wheelchair ramps provide people with mobility challenges—access. Telecoils are an essential gateway to hearing aid compatible assistive listening for most people with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Telecoils receive the magnetic sound signal from a hearing loop and also enable listening via infrared (IR) and FM systems signals with the use of a neckloop. Most hearing aid models—more than 70 per cent— either come with a telecoil or offer it as an option (all cochlear implant processors made today have a telecoil).
When buying a hearing aid, consumers should always ask that a telecoil be included and also that the audiologist or dispenser activates the telecoil program at the time of fitting. The consumer should also master the simple procedure for turning on the correct hearing aid or cochlear implant program to use the telecoil when needed.
A Telecoil shown inside a typical hearing aid.
Hearing loops are the most user-friendly of the assistive listening options and the first choice for many people, offering benefits for individuals and venues alike. For individuals with hearing loss, hearing loops provide:
• easy, immediate and discreet communication access;
• universal hearing aid compatibility;
• opportunities for greater participation and inclusion in the community.
Hearing loop systems serve most people with hearing loss who wish to improve their ability to understand speech and sounds. As with FM and IR systems, hearing loops also offer accessibility via portable receivers and headphones.
Cost-Effective: Compared to other systems, a hearing loop will save money for a venue through reduced staff time, maintenance and equipment costs.
Instant Access: Only a hearing loop assistive listening system (ALS) will allow a significant number of people with hearing loss to access the system without the need to borrow and return venue-provided equipment.
ADA Compliant: Hearing loops are the only ALS that can meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandate for hearing aid compatibility without the need to borrow and return venue-provided equipment.
Universally Accessible: Hearing loops are the universally-accepted international standard for hearing access.
International Standards: Facility managers and decision-makers should choose only trained and experienced loop installers who are willing to provide references. Installers should confirm that the installation meets the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard IEC 60118-4. This standard defines the strength of the magnetic field, the frequency response, and methods of measuring these requirements. It also specifies the acceptable range of electromagnetic background noise.