People with hearing loss can participate in programs at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Niagara (FUUN) using the “inductive loop” assisted listening system.
It enables them to receive electronic broadcast of programs directly to their hearing aids or cochlear implants. The telecoil or “T” switch on these devices must merely be turned on. Most people find the sound quality high with no interfering echo or background noise.
PEOPLE WITH HEARING AIDS
In order to use the inductive loop assisted hearing system properly you must have an enabled "T" switch in your hearing aid, and you must know how to turn it on. Most modern hearing aids have "T" switches, but they are usually disabled by the person from whom you purchased the hearing aid. They do this because they do not want to be bothered showing you how to turn it on. Because most auditoriums do not have inductive loops they feel it is not worthwhile telling you about them and teaching you how to use it.
Activating the "T" switch in your hearing aid(s) is easy for the provider to do. It is done on a computer and takes on a few minutes. You must then be taught how to turn it on and off which is merely another mode which is then available when it is enabled. There should be little or no charge for enabling your "T" switch(es). Even if your hearing aid does not now contain a "T" switch. Adding one should relatively low cost.
Do not let a hearing aid salesperson mislead you. They sometimes even tell customers that their hearing aids do not contain a "T" switch when they actually do. They may not even know what a "T" switch is, or that the hearing aid they sold you contains one. Hearing aid salespeople are, unfortunately, not a good or reliable source of hearing aid information or help. They are historically and notoriously only interested in selling you hearing aids, rather than in selecting the best model for you or in helping you use them properly. Their primary motivation is making commissions or profits. We strongly suggest going to a qualified audiologist for your hearing aids.
You can hear the inductive loop without using your hearing aid(s). The signal is picked up by earmuff type receivers, but it is not of the quality that your hearing aids provide.
Our Story and Commitment to Inductive Loop
A few years ago we realized that some people were unable to hear our programs even with the amplification system. We felt this had to be changed to include people with impaired hearing. After studying the various hearing systems available and consulting with experts, we concluded that the best and most affordable system clearly was an inductive loop.
Even to most rigorous skeptics, an inductive loop system seems almost like magic. You merely make a loop of ordinary wire around the auditorium. The wire is hooked up to your sound system amplifier.
CAUTION! DO NOT EXPERIMENT WITH AN AMPLIFIER WHICH IS OF VALUE. IT IS EASY TO BLOW OUT COMPONENTS UNLESS YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
Immediately anyone with a hearing aid containing a “T” switch picked up everything on that sound system without the background noise. This seemed so far fetched that we first tried it by temporarily making a wire loop around our seats tied to our normal amplifier, costing us nothing. To our astonishment, it worked! This simple system could be used permanently, but it could also be much better and easier to use and maintain with some improvements.
First we needed to install a permanent wire loop around the perimeter of our auditorium. We chose a No. 14 stranded electrical wire with a white insulation so it would blend in with the woodwork. The wire was stapled into a groove in the woodwork and is barely visible. The next time the hall is painted it will be covered with paint and be even less obvious. The cost of the loop was less than $100. It only took a few hours to install.
Then we tried using various low cost standard amplifiers. They worked, but not as well or safely as an amplifier made specifically for an inductive loop. We found an amplifier which replaced our sound system unit. It drives the inductive loop with simple controls. We were fortunate to find a rebuilt amplifier made specifically for this application so our cost was low. Our total system cost us about $500 in addition to the speakers and microphones we already had. This replaced our aging amplifier and accommodates four microphones and six speakers. We have since added a CD/DVD player and an additional powered speaker to broadcast in the basement. All this is powered with the single amplifier using a single on/off switch and a single volume control. Most important it powers our loop with a high quality signal which is picked up by hearing aids with “T” switches.
We are very pleased with this audio system People with hearing loss report it is great for them. It was affordable and is almost maintenance free, except for replacing the batteries in the wireless microphones.
It was a powerful emotional experience for people who had been excluded to now be included. We decided to help spread this technology.
How to Loop Your Church or Hall
We have some very specific suggestions about how a Church can get started immediately providing an inductive loop for their Members who use hearing aids with “T” switches. This is a practical plan which can be started immediately at an affordable cost. There are three requirements:
At least one Member who will advocate to make this work so Members of the Congregation can participate more fully.
At least one Member using a hearing aid with a "T" switch who is willing to be part of the team.
A commitment from the Congregation to include Members with impaired hearing.
The only expense should be for the amplifier and a coil of wire. The amplifier we suggest for most Churches can be tried without risk. We suggest obtaining a Satellite III loop amplifier kit, currently priced at $1000. The supplier, Oval Window Audio, provides a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. The kit includes one receiver, the loop wire, and a sign in addition to the the amplifier which is connected to an output from your sound system. This is usually all you need to spend for everything you need to extend your current sound system to people with impaired hearing. The link for this Satellite III kit is:
We will come to your site at no charge to help anyone plan and install a temporary, and eventually permanent, inductive loop. We previously had an amplifier available as a loaner at no cost, but now we expect the Church or hall to make the commitment purchasing the amplifier with the 30 day return provision. Contact us to arrange for us to come help you when you have decided to purchase a system.
When you have obtained an amplifier a temporary inductive loop must be built in your hall. The wire is part of the Satellite III kit. Use a color which will blend in best when it is permanently installed. Place it temporarily in a loop around the outside perimeter of the hall using masking tape to keep it in place. We suggest it be laid on or near the floor except where it can go over doors to keep it from being a tripping hazard. The exact location depends on the hall. Try placing it near where it would be located permanently. Placing a temporary loop in a moderately sized hall should not take more than a few hours of work.
We do not encourage obtaining individual receivers for this temporary installation. If none of your Members have hearing aids with "T" switches, you should not set up a temporary loop. They need to be present when the loop is laid so they can immediately report how it works and to help direct any adjustments needed. Do not even tape it down until it is first tried and proved to be working. Next the temporary loop needs to be tried under real conditions.
Try it through a full actual Church service or meeting encouraging as many people as possible who have hearing aids with "T" switches to attend. Their reaction will tell you if you want to proceed to permanently install the loop and retain the amplifier to drive it. Do not worry about the personal listening receiver units for those without hearing aids with "T" switches until you have a system working for those who do. They can be purchased from Oval Window for $100 each. One receiver is included in the Satellite III kit.
We will be glad to freely help any Congregation or organization with the requirements listed above set up an inductive loop. We will come to your facility to work with you if needed. We have helped loop several halls and Churches. Our method is not technical and engineered. So far it has always worked. It has allowed the inclusion of people with impaired hearing. We are committed to spreading this technology. Feel free to contact us:
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Niagara 639 Main Street P.O. Box 2566 Niagara Falls, NY 14302 Phone (716) 285-8381 or (716) 754-2830 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a great web site which should be read to explain how the inductive loop works and a lot more about it. It also contains links to other suppliers. We worked with some of these suppliers when we set up our system. We suggest you start by reading this web site, but before going there please bookmark this page so you can return or open it in a new tab.
We will provide comments, reviews of suppliers and equipment, and experience with inductive loops on the web page. We invite and encourage anyone who sets up an inductive loop to share their experience. This free exchange of information will help everyone and gives everyone an opportunity to give back a little to the community. One reason inductive loops are not widely used is that there is little financial incentive for anyone to promote them. We can overcome this by freely sharing information.
1) First UU Church of Niagara Written 10/28/2009
We purchased our amplifier from Centrum Sound, which no longer supplies components for loop systems. We were very satisfied with both the product and the service. The amplifier is a LAP2000. We purchased a rebuilt unit for about $500. This replaced our sound system amplifier and accommodates four microphones and six speakers. We have since added a CD/DVD player and an additional powered speaker to broadcast in the basement. All this is powered with the single amplifier using a single on/off switch and a single volume control. This system has worked without problems for us since 2004.