People with hearing loss can participate in programs at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Niagara using the “inductive loop” assistive 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.
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. After studying the various hearing systems available, and especially after consulting with Hearing Loss Association of America/ Rochester chapter, 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. We suggest you use an expendable amplifier for initial testing.
Immediately anyone with a hearing aid containing a “T” switch can pick 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 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 standard No. 14 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 almost nothing. 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.
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 almost no 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 for. 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 link for this amplifier is:
Another way to conduct a trial is to obtain a “loaner” amplifier from your denomination or other organization. Unitarian Universalist Congregations should check with the Coordinator for Accessibility Concerns:
Other denominations and organizations probably have “loaner” programs. Check with yours. We will provide links to any others on this web page if we are given the information.
The First Unitarian Church of Niagara 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 return provision. We will still come to your site at no charge to help anyone plan and install a temporary, and eventually permanent, inductive loop. 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. Use standard 14 gauge stranded insulated wire which is available everywhere. 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 units for those without hearing aids with "T" switches until you have a system working for those who do. These can later be made from low cost parts or purchased. Neck loops are not a part of this system.
We will be glad to 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. 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 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.