Hearing loop systems
A hearing loop (also sometimes known as an 'induction loop') directs sound straight into your hearing aids without the need for any other device to be used. It should be a discreee, hassle-free system to use. Special headphones should be offered if you do not have hearing aids.
Hearing loops use invisible electromagnetic waves to direct sound into hearing aid. The loop system consists of a microphone, an amplifier and a wire which acts as an antenna, radiating the magnetic signal. The wire can be placed round an area of almost any size – huge or tiny. For instance, they can be made available at customer service desks in shops or banks. They can also be placed around the whole of a church, a large hall, a theatre or a meeting room.
Hearing loops are compatible with all hearing aids that have a T-setting (telecoil). Sometimes this is known as the 'Loop setting'. If you’re not sure if your hearing aid has a 'T-setting' or 'Loop setting', ask your hearing aid provider.
Main types of hearing loop are:
Can be used discretely by any number of people within the hearing loop area. They can be made available in theatres, community halls, meeting rooms and other places where groups of people congregate to listen to the same thing. They can also be made available via intercom systems, e.g. in taxis, at drive-through kiosks, on train station platfroms.
Can be made available at customer service desks, in banks and other places where one-to-one conversation is needed.
Can be made available in locations where it wouldn’t be practical to install a fixed loop or counter loop. Not an ideal solution because users have to ask to use it so there is less discretion and ease of use. Also, parts of the portable loop can get separated and become lost.
You can buy hearing loops for personal use in your home. For example, to direct the TV or other audio sound sources straight into your hearing aids.
Things to look out for
A hearing loop should be discrete and hassle-free so that no-one needs to know you’re using it. A sign should indicate that a hearing loop is in place. Staff should be aware and should have a process in place to react effectively if you report a fault.
The issues that plagued hearing loops in the past should no longer be an issue - yet very often they are. If you come across a hearing loop that doesn't work, highlight the issue to the service provider and leave a review on our Rate & Review Access Tool. This will help to bring about improvement.
Ensure your hearing aid has a T-setting. A good hearing loop will give you a great listening experience – and is likely to make it easier and more relaxing to hear even if you have the best available hearing aids.
Is the problem your hearing aid? If you get a poor experience, check a few other hearing loops to see if the problem might be your hearing aid.
Don’t have a T-setting? Most digital hearing aids have this capability but you sometimes have to ask/remind your hearing aid provider to activate it. It is typically quick and easy to do.
Not got hearing aids? Some venues may make ‘personal listeners’ available, which is a small phone-sized receiver (often known as a 'streamer') which is connected to a headset that allows you to listen in to the sound that is coming through the hearing loop.
Advice & training
If you are a venue, facility or service provider, Ideas for Ears can:
- Assess and advise on the hearing needs of your customers
- Install and maintain assistive listening systems
- Train staff in the use of equipment and provide them with the skills and confidence to engage effectively with people who have hearing difficulties