Hearing Loops:  A Top Choice for Hearing Accommodation

Loops provide the greatest benefits to people who rely on assistive listening systems, and to venues required by the ADA to provide hearing accommodation.

Loops installed to the IEC 60118-4 standard (International Electrotechnical Commission) reliably deliver the cleanest sound to people with hearing loss—even to those with severe to profound hearing loss. Because of this and the many benefits listed below, hearing loops are becoming the foundation for hearing-friendly, inclusive communities throughout the United States.

User Benefits

Some of the many reasons hearing loops are the preferred assistive listening system by the majority of people with telecoil-enabled hearing aids and cochlear implants, and streamers:  

  • Easy to Use: To hear clearly, individuals simply switch their devices to the telecoil program and automatically receive clear customized sound. There is no need to arrive early, stand in line, or wait to return equipment after an event or meeting.
  • Quality Sound: A hearing loop sends sound directly to the telecoil receiver in a user’s hearing device. The system eliminates most background noise and greatly improves understanding of speech and music. Additionally, the sound received is customized by each user’s unique hearing instrument.
  • Discreet: Being able to hear well with a loop is inconspicuous; users do not stand out as being hard of hearing which encourages participation and inclusion.
  • Better Hygiene: For people with hearing aids and cochlear devices, there is also no concern over the sanitation issues associated with wearing headsets or ear buds provided by venues and worn by other users.
  • Versatile: Hearing loops provide effective, seamless communication across the broadest spectrum of environments—from auditoriums, theaters and places of worship, to meeting and class rooms, pharmacies, ticket counters and even in users’ homes.
  • Transient Solution: A hearing loop enables clear sound for a person with hearing loss at pharmacies, information desks, subway ticket counters, and taxis, or when passing through airports and train stations. 

A 2014 study reported by Hearing Review asked 866 adult users of T-coil equipped hearing aids and cochlear implants to rate their ability to understand speech in places such as places of worship, theaters and auditoriums and conference rooms. Less than 14 percent rated their ability to hear without a hearing loop above a seven. However, while listening in a looped area, 86 percent rated their experience between eight and ten. 
Graph of depicting study reported by Hearing Review.

Venue Benefits

Hearing loops also provide significant advantages to venues, including:

  • Easy to Administer: Because most users can connect to hearing loops directly, venues can reduce the assistive listening equipment needed for people without telecoil-enabled devices. This also reduces hygiene risks, because fewer people are using the same headphones or ear buds.
  • Maximum Impact: Once installed, hearing loops are always active—meaning they can automatically accommodate one or many thousand users simultaneously and without any additional action on the part of the venue.
  • Cost Effective: Once installed, hearing loops require minimum maintenance. But more importantly, because of all the user benefits—a hearing loop is an assistive listening system that is actually used by people with hearing loss.
  • ADA Compliance: Loop technology meets all of the requirements for assistive listening systems as stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act—and is the only assistive listening system that automatically provides hearing aid compatibility via telecoils.
  • Universal symbol that identifies a looped venue.Universal Access: Hearing loops are the internationally accepted standard for providing hearing accommodation. The universal symbol that identifies a venue as being equipped with loop technology welcomes people with hearing loss and communicates that their needs will be met in the best way possible.
  • International Standards: IEC standards exist to ensure the manufacture and installation of hearing loops meet the needs of both venue and end user. See below for more information.

Hearing Is Believing!

Richard Einhorn is a composer who became a passionate hearing loop advocate after attending a performance at a looped theater. Richard describes hearing “perfectly clear, perfectly clean and incredibly rich live music” for the first time since he’d lost most of his hearing. The video below is a recording Richard made at a looped New York City subway ticket booth to show the dramatic difference a hearing loop system makes for people with hearing loss.

For even more information about hearing loops and frequently asked questions, visit the Get in the Hearing Loop page on this site and HearingLoop.org.