For people who have a hearing loss, communication in large rooms can be extremely challenging. This article presents a solution.
Can you hear me now? In most venues, a single microphone or even two microphones are not enough to accommodate a room of people trying to communicate with each other. The further you are away from the presenter, the more challenging it is for people to hear you. Here’s an example (click the picture):
For people who have a hearing loss, communication in large rooms can be extremely challenging. It’s not solved by simpling adding more microphones and speakers. Hearing aids are often disappointing because it is assumed they will make hearing in all environments better. While hearing aids help in one on one conversations they can actually hinder large group conversations and presentations.
A hearing aid is simply a “microphone” on the ear. Stated simply, it amplifies all the audio within a room. Unlike our ears, hearing aids don’t have the ability to focus on the desired source. More volume does not equal clearer sound.
This is where assistive listening technology comes into play. It allows those with a hearing loss to have the signal right at their ear, thus eliminating room ambient and undesired noise and this allows them to focus and for them to get the content in which they came for. Assistive Listening is delivered using RF, IR or Hearing Loop technology.
Here’s “visual” example of what it’s like for someone who is hearing impaired.
The brain has to work extremely hard to focus and to try to decipher what is being said. Below is an example of what it sounds like without assistive listening and then WITH assistive listening.
A one hour meeting is exhausting to someone living with hearing loss as it takes physical and mental concentration to decipher the messages. I believe those of us in AV need to embrace, support and understand this large group. If we can understand the need for multiple microphones and speakers than surely we can understand why hearing aids are not enough in venues.
Many architects and clients desire clear communication in the spaces they design however they don’t want to have to “see” the AV in the room.This is why hearing loops are so desired by the hearing impaired community. They simply push a switch on their hearing aid and it becomes the receiver. There are many technologies available to help those in a venue have an enriched experience and the hearing loop is one of them. I’ve been able to talk with people who’ve been able to enjoy a venue all because they don’t have to focus so much on just “hearing” what is being said. Talking and seeing people truly enjoy the experience has been an emotional experience for me. One that I want others to have because it’s great to be able to design or install an awesome room with AV, however it become so much better when everyone is able to enjoy the experience of the room AV systems.