Diversity and inclusion in the technology space is important and often ignored. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, a great time to learn about destigmatizing hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 people are projected to have hearing problems by 2050. Hearing loss can impact people at any age and often public spaces do not provide the right environment for a diverse audience.
Hearing loop technology pairs with hearing aids and cochlear implants to improve the quality of sound that an individual hears by removing the presence of background noise and sending crystal-clear sound directly from the sound board to the user’s hearing device. This technology has widespread popularity in Europe and has been increasingly brought to venues in the United States.
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Induction loop technology can be used in a variety of spaces. Large event spaces, concert halls, libraries, and churches can utilize this technology to improve the sound quality for both people with and without hearing loss. Management of many public spaces, when thinking about creating an inclusive space, are unaware of the large number of people with hearing challenges that come in. By upgrading the sound system with a hearing loop system, speech or music without background noise or distortion will be provided to audience members and improves the overall experience while creating an environment that they want to return to.
At checkout counters a small microphone can be installed with a counter induction loop system, allowing people with hearing aids and cochlear implants to pick up the sound from the microphone through the hearing loop system. This technology can improve the communication between patrons and staff members at shops, government offices, ticket booths, banks, and in other 1-on-1 situations.
At home, most people with hearing loss have a simple way to cope with the challenges of TV listening – they turn up the volume. This, however, has two problems: 1) the sound they find most comfortable tends to be irritatingly loud to their spouses and family members, and 2) louder sound doesn’t really solve the problem – clearer sound does. Induction loop systems enable people with hearing loss to hear clearer TV sound, and, to their family members’ relief, with their own individually adjusted volume. By broadcasting through one’s own customized hearing aids, induction loop systems work especially well.
With hearing loop technology, we can raise awareness about hearing loss and create an inclusive society that focuses on high-fidelity listening experiences.
Thomas Kaufmann is the founder of OTOjOY. Founded in 2012, OTOjOY provides technology solutions for individuals with hearing loss. With hearing loop technology, OTOjOY creates equal access to speech and music and provides enhanced listening experiences by streaming sound wirelessly to people’s hearing aids, cochlear implants and smartphones. OTOjOY introduced Counter Induction Loops and at home Induction Loops to promote high quality sound at the places people frequent. For more information, please visit otojoy.com.