Why are assistive listening systems needed?
It’s wonderful that churches, schools, and business have made themselves accessible to the visible minority of people in wheelchairs. For less money, they can also make themselves optimally accessible to the large but largely invisible minority of people with hearing loss—some 37.5 million Americans according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. About 1 in 4—some 8.4 million—have hearing aids, a number that would surely increase if hearing aids could double as wireless, customized loudspeakers.
In most places, hard of hearing people hear the broadcast sound, but only after it has traveled some distance from a loudspeaker, reverberated off walls, and gotten mixed with other room noise. Induction loop systems take sound straight from the source and deliver it right into the listener’s head. It’s as if one’s head was located in the microphone, or inches from a television’s loudspeaker—without extraneous noise, or blurring of the sound with distance from the sound source.