As of July 2016, a yoga studio based in California, Yasa Yoga, has become the only yoga studio on the West Coast to install a hearing loop in their studios. Thomas Kaufmann, the owner of OTOjOY, convinced the yoga studio to install one of his company’s hearing loops during a renovation. As a yoga enthusiast, Kaufmann found that yoga classes are difficult for those who are hard of hearing, even with hearing aids.
Kaufmann says, “It’s difficult even for people without hearing loss to hear in yoga studios. From a physics standpoint, it’s a great resonance room with all the bouncing sound, but it leads to unintelligibility.”
So how can hearing loops be useful in a group exercise class like yoga? Is it possible for hearing loops to be a provided service in other exercise classes?
Hearing Loops: What are They? How do they Work?
When a business invests in a hearing loop, a copper wire is installed into the room’s perimeter. During a class, an instructor will wear a microphone that transmits and amplifies the instructor’s voice through magnetic waves to anyone wearing a hearing aid. The electromagnetic conduction of sound works with hearing aids that have a telecoil function. Kaufmann says, “Nobody in the class hears the amplified sound from the hearing loop except those already tapped into it through their hearing devices.”
OTOjOY works to provide hearing loops for both public spaces and for home use. They currently serve in the California area providing assistive listening technology to in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Santa Maria.
While this type of assistive listening technology is common in many places in Europe and Australia, it’s fairly new in the US. It isn’t just useful in exercise classes but also in lecture halls, public transportation, houses of worship and many other public venues.
Hearing loops, unlike other assistive listening devices, do not require another listening component for those who are hard of hearing and use hearing aids. Hearing aids with telecoils require a simple switch to the “t-coil” function to connect to a hearing loop. Because hearing loops automatically and constantly conduct amplified sound, those who use hearing aids only need to switch on their telecoil function to connect to a clear, direct channel of sound.
How Do I Get a Hearing Loop?
Hearing loops can be used in the home, at a lecture, in a class or in any need where direct amplification may be desirable. It’s a great option for businesses that serve clients with hearing loss.
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, places open to the general public, either public or private, must provide accessibility options for Americans with disabilities. Because of this legislation, businesses, schools, public transportation and other places have wheel chair accessible ramps, and even hearing amplification or assistive listening device options. Hearing loops are an excellent option to fulfill the requirement for assistive listening as a part of the ADA.
If you use a hearing aid to treat your hearing loss, and you frequent certain local businesses, consider a conversation with the business owners about the possibility of investing in a hearing loop. Who knows? The growing interest in hearing loops could open a new door of new resources for both the hard of hearing and for businesses alike.
Hearing Aids and Staying Active
For those who experience hearing loss, there are still ways to go to your favorite group work out classes thanks to the help of hearing aids and assistive listening options.
While hearing loss by itself can be an isolating situation, there are ways to help reconnect with friends, loved ones, co-workers, and workout buddies! Don’t let hearing loss hold you back from doing the things you love.
Wondering if your hearing aids offer the telecoil function? Contact us at one of our My Hearing Centers locations today.
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