Why North America lags Europe in Loop Systems

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“Britain’s Royal National Institute for Deaf People (now Action for Hearing Loss) has noted that “Induction loops are vital to ensure accessibility for hearing aid wearers,” and offers suggestions for installing and checking them.

Loop systems are therefore becoming omnipresent in Northern Europe (where in some countries 90 percent of hearing aids have telecoils). For example, in Britain nearly all hearing aids provided by the National Health Service now come with telecoils, and most churches and cathedrals are now looped. In the next several years, all London taxis and all London Underground ticket windows will be looped. Britishers, but as yet few Americans, know about loop systems. That, we hope, is about to change . . . as caring communities seek to get hard of hearing persons in the loop!

So why does the North America lag Europe in making loop systems available? It’s not because the technology is new. It isn’t, though new refinements and careful engineering and installation now make it more possible to surmount possible problems such as electrical interference or magnetic energy-sucking metalwork. The main reason is that in the past only about 30 percent of hearing aid-wearing Americans have T-coils (the percentage is higher among those with severe hearing loss–the very people most in need of assistive listening).

Happily, this percentage has risen, with telecoils now coming with some two-thirds of new hearing aid models and all new cochlear implants.

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