|Image courtesy of Hidden Hearing Blog|
Technology is relevant to each of us in our daily lives. For those with a hearing loss, technology can positively change the way they communicate, learn, and experience their world. From amplification advancements, mobile applications, alerting devices to telecommunication options, assistive listening devices, and captioning, the world is changing and barriers are being reduced.
I have had the opportunity to serve as a Resource Facilitator and Speech-Language Pathologist working at a Bilingual Deaf school for almost 10 years and have seen the impact that these technologies make. My most current volunteer effort, as the President of the Kansas City Sertoma Club, has brought a new "cause" to light for me. Hearing loss does not only occur in ~3 in every 1,000 children born, but in high numbers within our aging population. In fact, according to the NIDCD, There is a strong relationship between age and reported hearing loss: 18 percent of American adults 45-64 years old, 30 percent of adults 65-74 years old, and 47 percent of adults 75 years old or older have a hearing loss. They estimate this effects ~36 million American adults.
What is troubling for me is that even with these statistics, our country is behind others when it comes to looping technology. 80% of hearing aids and cochlear implant devices are already equipped with T-Coil technology allowing them to utilize a technology called looping, if it were in place. Sadly, the awareness and availability of this technology is lacking. Those 36 million adults accessibility needs are not being addressed by our businesses, churches, and schools.
Looping is a simple technology that allows hearing assistive devices to serve as wireless loudspeakers, delivering clear, sharp, customized sound right from inside the ears. It can be adapted to use in large public spaces, such as airports and auditoriums. But it can just as easily be installed in churches, drive-up business windows and even into a single room at home so the TV or stereo sound becomes a broadcast going directly through the hearing assistive device. The induction loop is to hearing aids, what Wi-Fi is to laptops.
My Sertoma International organization has begun a campaign to "Loop" America, through a program titled "A Sound Investment." This technology is a simple way to provide direct access to so many within our community. I would love to see a day when every school, church, government office, venue, and transportation hub is able to truly communicate with all of their members/customers.
To learn more about this program, please visit Sertoma's "A Sound Investment" page and view their videos.
More About Looping:
How Does Looping Work: