HLAA Sarasota Chapter Board Member Convinces Supreme Court to Add a Hearing Loop to Courtroom

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HLAA Sarasota Chapter Board Member Convinces Supreme Court to Add a Hearing Loop to Courtroom

Fri, 07/11/2014

Sarasota, FL: For the first time in its history, the United States Supreme Court will install a hearing loop system this summer to enable people with hearing loss to follow the proceedings. This decision was a direct result of the efforts of Richard Williams, Esq., of Lakewood Ranch, a Board member of the HLAA Sarasota Chapter.

Pamela Talkin, Marshal of the Court said to Mr. Williams, “I truly appreciate the initiative you took in making your suggestion.  Your suggestion will benefit countless visitors to the Court.”

Mr. Williams, who had sudden hearing loss and now uses an implantable hearing device and a hearing aid, has appeared before the court and knows first-hand the difficulty of hearing in the courtroom.  

In 2013, Mr. Williams contacted the Supreme Court Marshal advocating that the court install a hearing loop to enhance speech and voice recognition for people who have hearing loss. Mr. Williams pointed to research showing that hearing loops have become more prevalent in public facilities in the United States and commonly found in most European public facilities.   

A hearing loop system consists of a microphone that picks up the spoken word and an amplifier that processes the signal.  The signal is then sent to an induction loop, a wire placed around the perimeter of a room or sanctuary, which acts as an antenna that radiates the magnetic signal directly into to the hearing aid.  Delivering personalized in-the-ear sound directly from a microphone into a hearing aid or cochlear implant reduces background noise and other acoustic distortions and increases the clarity and crispness of sound.   

“We are thrilled with this important decision and proud of what our board member, Richard Williams, was able to accomplish,” says JoAnne DeVries, president of the HLAA Sarasota Chapter. “Locally, our Let’s Loop SRQ initiative has resulted in more than 100 looped venues in Sarasota and Manatee counties.   We are currently advocating for even more venues as well as actively working with the National Hearing Loss Association of America on the Get in the Hearing Loop campaign.

Among the more than 100 looped venues, the HLAA Sarasota Chapter has successfully looped all 13 live performance theaters in Sarasota. For a list of the facilities with hearing loops in Sarasota and Manatee, Florida, or for more information about the HLAA Sarasota Chapter go to www.hlas.org or contact JoAnne Devries, president, 941-320-8825. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at the North County Library at 1:30 p.m.