What is the point and purpose of hearing loops? A hearing aid user for 40 years, Hilary McColl wasn’t ever quite sure. Maybe they were for people who had worse hearing than her, or perhaps better hearing? Or perhaps it was to do with the type of hearing aids used, or not used?
Hilary McColl explains the journey that led to her creating a fantastic new booklet called In the Loop. It helps sort fact from fiction to make hearing loops understandable for everyone and to highlight the continued importance of hearing loops in 2020.
Here’s what she says:
Why I created In the Loop
I’d worn hearing aids for forty years before I really understood the potential benefit to me of a good hearing loop, and for that understanding I have to thank Sally Shaw of Ideas for Ears!
I had learned early on (I thought) that somehow my particular type of deafness made it impossible for me to hear the sound produced by hearing loops, and I gave up bothering with them. It was only recently I realised that many loops don’t actually work, or at least don’t work well enough to be of any benefit to me.
When I finally experienced a properly working loop I was bowled over. Why can’t they all be like that?!
Conversations with fellow hearing aid users and some local service providers convinced me that lack of information is at least partly to blame. Hearing aid users like me receive scant information about T-coils ; even less about hearing loops, or where they can be found, or how they are supposed to work.
Service providers (some of them) know that the law requires them to provide a hearing loop for the benefit of those using their services who also rely on hearing aids, but they are largely unaware of how they work or what they should do to ensure that they are always available and fit for purpose.
Lack of enforcement is a big problem
These two parties have no chance to learn from each other, and there is no official body tasked with monitoring and enforcing even the basic legal requirements. It all depends on users demanding the standards they require. But if users don’t know, how can they complain?
Lockdown got me thinking
Coronavirus and lockdown gave me the opportunity to do some serious research and some extended writing. Five months on, and many online conversations later, I have written two booklets that I hope will go a small way towards providing some of the missing information.
You can download “In the Loop” Part 1: “for hearing aid users” or Part 2 “for frontline staff and managers” on Ideas for Ears’ website. They are freely photocopiable and I hope folks will find them useful.
Thank you, Sally, for holding my hand throughout this process, and for ensuring that I didn’t make too many awful blunders. Any remaining faults are, of course mine.