Dispelling the Myth of Induction Loop Technology

by Cory Schaeffer

In this article, Cory Schaeffer explains the benefits of Induction Loop Technology.

Induction loop technology wirelessly broadcasts the audio system directly to hearing aids that have a t-coil. It’s widely used outside of North America for assistive listening. With the recent 2012 changes in the America’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), this technology has had a surge of interest from the hearing impaired community. I remember over ten years ago when I first “heard” a loop receiver and what my impression was. In brief, I was less than impressed and I wondered why anyone would use a loop system.

The past two years have been very educational for me and what I’ve learned is that induction loop is a technology. Like any technology it has its pros and cons. It’s not fair to jump to a conclusion and blame the technology based one poor experience as there are many factors at play. As Pat Brown always says when we ask him a question about technology, “It depends…”

To be installed properly there are various factors on the installation site that must be taken into consideration. Even coverage, the correct standardized levels to match hearing aids and a flat frequency response across the desired bandwidth are critically important in proving a positive experience.  Taking time to research and plan the design and install is necessary since a properly designed, installed and operating hearing loop system delivers tangible benefits to the end-user. With induction loop technology the technology needs to be installed correctly and to an IEC Standard which is a standard that guides the performance of the system. This standard when followed ensures that there is equal coverage throughout the looped area.

Chart showing how Induction Loop Technology works

Photo of a person listening

I have seen firsthand the emotional impact a properly installed induction loop can have on someone experiencing it for the first time. It’s quite visible. You can see their eyes light up right before you. Honestly, it’s an amazing experience to be part of. One of our New York City representatives was visibly touched while witnessing a woman experience this technology for the first time. Words could not prepare her and she burst into tears as she realized she could not only hear, but hear clearly. The rep’s eyes filled with tears during the demonstration and he had to look away so that he didn’t cry. This is what I love about assistive listening – delivering a positive experience.

The requests and momentum of induction loop is growing in North America as the hard-of-hearing community demand this technology over others in many venues. Users often prefer this technology whenever possible because they don’t have to go and pick up a receiver and therefore point themselves out as having a disability. They simply use their t-coil hearing aid as the receiver. Receivers for people that do not have a t-coil hearing aid can be used with an induction loop system.

I’ve learned a great deal about induction loops since that first experience years ago. We’ve even hired a specialist within our company to focus on this technology. Induction loop installations can be more complicated than the standard RF and IR technologies and like all technologies it’s not ideal for every project. But the potential impact on many levels leaves this a technology not to be overlooked.