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Hearing Loops

Hearing Loops are an increasingly popular technology that is helping millions with hearing loss hear more clearly in public places. Call us at 413.582.1114 if you have questions about hearing loops or to find out when we are having our next Hearing Loop demonstration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hearing loop?

A hearing loop is a special amplifier connected to a PA system or TV, which transmits a magnetic signal to a wire that is installed around the boundary of a room. The signal is then picked up by people who are wearing hearing aids with an induction coil (or “T-Coil”). People without hearing aids can listen through special portable headsets. Hearing Loops are widely used in Europe and Scandinavia to help people with hearing loss access sound in a variety of public places, including concert and movie theatres, places of worship, retail stores and airports. They are gaining popularity in the United States.

What is a T-coil?

Originally the T-coil was developed to “hear” the magnetic signal generated by older phones without using the hearing aid’s external microphone.  This was developed out of a need to bypass the hearing aid’s microphone, which could create feedback when pressed up next to an object. 

Why haven’t I heard of this before?

T-coils of previous generations were much weaker than hearing aid microphones.  When the person switched over to the T-coil setting, they had to listen to a signal that was significantly softer than their hearing aid.  Often, the volume was too low to benefit from the technology. Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) from overhead lights and computer screens could also cause electronic noise when using the T-coil, causing users to reject it.

Why is it different this time around?

With the increasing popularity of behind-the-ear (BTE) models in the United States, in which T-coils come standard, more people than ever before have the opportunity to use T-coils. Today’s T-coils are vastly superior to early models. They now include a built-in amplifier, giving them an approximately 20 dB boost over their predecessors. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) protection is also built into the system to reduce the interference from external sources.

If the person doesn’t have a hearing aid, can they still benefit from a Hearing Loop?

Yes. Depending on the system available, portable headsets that act as receivers can be used.

How can I tell if a Hearing Loop is available?

Signage has been developed to alert patrons to the availability of technology for individuals with hearing loss. One is specific to the Hearing Loop, but as some locations may have more than one option available it is always best to ask. View an example sign on HearingLoop.org

How do I know if my hearing aid has a T-coil?

Talk to your audiologist. Your hearing aid may have a T-coil, but it may not be active. To activate it, the audiologist can perform a simple programming change in the office and add it to your hearing aid “program options.” Ask your audiologist about alternatives if your hearing aid does not have a T-coil.

How does it work?

View these video demonstrations:
Listening at a subway booth
Listening in church

What other options are out there?

Many hearing aids are now produced with “Bluetooth connectivity.” This means that a hearing aid can receive a Bluetooth signal either directly or when coupled with an intermediary device.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is an open wireless technology used to connect different electronic devices over short distances. It creates a tiny wireless network between multiple devices.

How is Bluetooth used in hearing aids?

Bluetooth can be used to allow a wearer’s hearing aids to communicate with hands-free devices, like music players and cellphones. It can also be used to allow two hearing aids to communicate with each other. This technology, coupled with an individual’s hearing aids, can create small wireless networks in their home or on the go, allowing them to “stream” their TV, phones (land lines and mobile), and even remote microphones.

Where are Hearing Loops in use in Massachusetts?

Children’s Hospital Boston
300 Longwood Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
617-355-6000

Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard St.
Brookline, MA 02446
617-734-2500

Linden Ponds Retirement Community
302 Linden Ponds Way
Hingham, MA 02043
781-836-0672

D.E.A.F., Inc.
215 Brighton Avenue
Allston, MA 02134
617-254-4041

Clarke Hearing Center
45 Round Hill Rd
Northampton, MA 01060
413-582-1114

Places of Worship:

Acton Congregational Church
12 Concord Rd.
Acton, MA 01720
978-263-2728

Christ Church of Cambridge
11 Garden St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-876-0200

St. Pius V Parish
215 Maple St.
Lynn, MA 01904
781-595-7487

Pittsfield First Baptist Church
88 South St.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
413-445-4539

Christ the King Lutheran Church
600 Central St.
Holliston, MA 01746
508-429-5705

Cape Cod Synagogue
145 Winter Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
508-775-2988

Saint Peter’s Church
310 Massachusetts 137
Harwich, MA 02645
508-432-5172

Where can I find out more information?

The websites for the Get Into The Hearing Loop and Let's Loop America campaigns organized by Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Academy of Audiology offer additional information on Hearing Loops. You can also find information on HearingLoop.org. Contact the Clarke Hearing Center for more information on how you or your organization can benefit from using Hearing Loop technology.