Hearing access specialists
Hearing access specialists

Cover of In The Loop Part 1What 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:

A head shot of Hilary Mccoll smiling at the cameraWhy 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.

In the Loop for Part 1 for hearing aid users (external link)

In the Loop Part 2 for staff and managers (external link)

6 responses to “What I learned about hearing loops bowled me over”

  1. I note your “avoidance” of loops for a period. Sorry indeed that you missed out during that period.

    I note also that you identified two of the prime reasons loops may not help: “many loops don’t actually work, or at least don’t work well enough” and the impetus you had for writing your “for staff and managers” booklet. In short and acknowledging very gratefully the enormous advances in hearing aid technology itself, loops don’t work because they are simply defective in some respect (perhaps not even switched on!), or the speaker hasn’t got a clue about how to use them when they do work.

    I recall a relatively recent visit (about three years ago) to my new GP. There was a panel (free-standing) loop on the reception desk. However, that panel was a distance away from both me and the receptionist. I recall a straightforward rule of thumb requirement for such loop systems (thanks to Connevans and a diagram in their catalogue) – both the speaker and the listener need to be within one metre of the loop panel (which, these days, is useful as both parties can adhere to the two-metre social-distancing requirements). The microphone for these panels is barely more than a pin-hole aperture at the back of the panel – so it helps if the speaker addresses you with the panel close to being in front of the speaker as, otherwise, the quality of the voice deteriorates quite markedly.

    An alternative if their cost is within the reach of a hearing aid user’s budget is a neck loop and its attendant remote microphone – there are several models available. Additionally, but separately, as is the case for me with my now newish (two years ago) CI, is a remote CI manufacturer compatible bluetooth remote microphone. The speaker tends to be (but no guarantee!) more conscious of speaking into the microphone if they have it in their hand or if it is clipped to their clothing.

    Thank you, Hilary, for taking the time and trouble to convert your experiences into two valuable and digestible booklets.

  2. Excellent and timely booklets – should be required reading for absolutely everyone, whether they use hearing aids/CIs or want to talk to those who do! Loop technology is a game-changer when installed and used correctly. It’s often viewed today as ‘old’ technology – but that’s far from the truth: it’s still THE most effective way to deal with noisy places or large venues.

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