The American Academy of Audiology, Reston, Va, on behalf of audiologists, and the Hearing Loss Association of America, Bethesda, Md, on behalf of people with hearing loss, are collaborating in Get in the Hearing Loop, a public education campaign.
The campaign aims to enlighten and excite hearing aid users, as well as audiologists and other professionals who dispense hearing aids, about telecoils and hearing loops and their unique benefits. Hearing loops transmit the audio from a PA system directly to telecoil-equipped hearing aids and cochlear implants. The telecoil functions as an antenna, relaying sounds directly into the ear without background noise just like Wi-Fi connects people to the Web.
Hearing aids can easily and affordably become wireless receivers for use with telephones and hearing assistive listening systems–hearing loops and neckloops –- by adding a telecoil option to the aid. Some 69% of all hearing aids dispensed in the United States today have telecoils. Yet far too few consumers and hearing professionals know about or use them, according to the campaign.
Pat Kricos, PhD, president-elect of the Academy, agreed to join the HLAA in this endeavor. “Thanks to the passionate groundbreaking work carried on by HLAA member David Myers, PhD, in his Let’s Loop America advocacy endeavor, there have been steady increases in accessibility for individuals with hearing loss," Kricos said in a statement. "However, we still have a long road ahead of us before people with hearing loss can expect to hear in public areas via hearing loop technology. This collaborative awareness campaign by HLAA and the Academy will ensure that both consumers and audiologists will become fully aware of the remarkable benefits of telecoils and hearing loops.”
HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat said that “Though HLAA and the Academy have worked together on advocacy issues for many years, this is the first time they have worked together on an educational campaign. My feeling was that educating consumers about telecoils and assistive listening systems would not be effective if the hearing professionals were not on board. It was important to get their buy-in. This is a way to address it from both sides and have a greater impact.”
Juliëtte Sterkens, AuD, audiologist and committee member of the Get in the Hearing Loop campaign, said that “a successful local hearing loop campaign in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin made me realize that hearing loops can profoundly affect people who use hearing aid. I want to help bring this news to every hearing aid user in the country and help make my audiology colleagues aware of an opportunity we are missing to help our clients get more from their hearing aids.”
The campaign will culminate in the Second International Hearing Loop Conference to coincide with the HLAA annual convention in Washington, on June 16 to 19, 2011. The first International Hearing Loop Conference was organized by the European Association of Hard of Hearing People in Winterthur, Switzerland in September 2009.