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Many people with hearing difficulties find it challenging to hear well in public buildings and places of worship. For ten years or more, public buildings in European countries have been fitted with Hearing Loops. These devices are becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
The April issue of National Geographic describes the devices this way: "Sound Effects: Imagine flipping a switch to cut out muddling background noise so all you hear is a speaker’s voice. For millions of people with hearing difficulties, it’s now possible with hearing loops—a simple technology appearing in U.S. airports, churches, auditoriums, and other venues. Already widespread in the U.K. and Scandinavian nations, the system takes advantage of a common hearing aid component called a telecoil. Loops don’t require headsets or receivers like other assistive methods; the magic lies in wire loops installed at the site. These relay magnetic signals to the telecoil from an amplifier linked to the audio source, typically a microphone or public address system. Activate the aid’s 'T' setting (originally for 'telephone mode') and it’s like a voice crystallizes inside your head."
Recent installation of Hearing Loops in First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne has several worshipers overjoyed. An active member and Hearing Loops advocate, Ginny Clark, states, “Last month my church, First Presbyterian on West Wayne across from the library, installed loops in the sanctuary, the choir loft, the chapel, the big dining hall, and First Pres Theater. Now I don’t have a problem understanding every word spoken through the sound system, and I don’t have to put on a headset or do anything but push a button on my hearing aids. It’s great!”