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Hearing Loop

According to Stats Canada (
link) audiometry results from the 2012 and 2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) indicate that 20% of adults aged 19 to 79 years had at least mild hearing loss in at least one ear. As with many other things when our ability the hear diminishes so does our quality of life. We may feel excluded or isolated and may withdraw from activities we previously loved. Hearing aides, beginning with ear trumpets in the 17th century, have greatly helped to reduce the impact of hearing loss on daily life. Hearing aides, however, are not a perfect replacement for the instrument we were born with. While generally good in close proximity and small groups the intelligibility and understandability are greatly affected by the level of ambient noise and other environmental factors. This noise makes it difficult for the listener to differentiate voices and conversations. Volume is not the problem, they can hear it all, it just cannot be understood. To address the problem of intelligibility and understandability a number of assistive technologies have been developed that work in conjunction with hearing aids. You may have heard of some of them: FM Systems, Infrared, Hearing Loops, Bluetooth, etc. 

After consulting with representatives from the Edmonton Branch of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA), it was determined that a loop system would be a good solution for St. Timothys. However, before jumping into a full implementation we ran a pilot project. For the pilot we installed a loop (on loan CHHA) around one set pews. Following a pilot period of 6-8 weeks we surveyed parishioners about their experience with the system and the value it provided. Every respondent that had used the system was elated with how much it improved understandability. The typical response was an improvement in understandability from 20-30% to 80-90%. Improvements like that are hard to ignore! So, in April 2018 St. Timothys installed a loop system that covers the entire seating area of the nave (main worship space) and chancel (choir seating). As expected parishioners have been delighted with the system and how it allows them to better hear, understand and participate in services. 

To use the hearing loop you must have a hearing aid or cochlear implant that has a T-coil (about T-coils brochure) built in and enabled. The good news is that most hearing aides sold today have a T-coil in them. The bad, often it is not enabled. The best suggestion is to have a conversation with your audiologist about your hearing aid and when it has a T-coil and if it is enabled. They can also show you how to switch to T (or MT) more and provide more information about other places in your community with loop systems (ask about counter loops). For those without hearing aids, who have problems "hearing" the service (or just want to try a hearing loop), we have two devices called loop listeners. Loop listeners are basically a body pack with a T-coil and headphones.  

This video does a pretty good job of explaining why a hearing loop makes a difference. 

Some additional information/resources about hearing and loop systems:
https://www.chha-ed.com/  (Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Edmonton Branch)