The Hearing-Impaired Have Options 

The challenge hearing loss brings to our community is loss of connection. People with hearing loss “fake it” as best they can. They are no longer able to enjoy a movie, a production at a performing-arts facility, dinner out with friends or many of the activities that have brought them joy over the years. They simply “disconnect.”

In Utah, we have an amazing advocacy group, LoopUtah.org and people like Dr. Anne Lobdell, AuD, who advocate for loops in venues. Loop Technology works in conjunction with a hearing aid or cochlear implants to eliminate background noise, and allows the sound system in venues to be delivered wirelessly to a user’s ear. This technology has been life changing for those who experience it. Today, there are few venues in Utah with the loop technology. However, 100 percent of cochlear implants and more than 70 percent of hearing aids have the ability to connect to this technology. If someone is not sure if they have this technology in their hearing aid, they need to check with their audiologist to activate it.

Hearing-aid users are usually disappointed with the experience they have from hearing aids. But it’s typically not the fault of the hearing aid. Hearing aids are great in quiet environments or one-on-one conversations, but they fall short when used in performance venues as they amplify all sounds, not just the sound we want to hear.

Many individuals with hearing loss have no idea that “technology” is a requirement under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), meaning that venues have to have “assistive listening technology” available at no charge.

For users to experience the loop, they need to know where the loops are installed. Dr. Lobdell has her office looped and the Sanderson Community Center of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing has rooms looped. The community in Utah needs to be aware of the technology available. They need to request it when visiting a venue, they need to ask their audiologists about it and they need to experience it for themselves. Visit LoopUtah.org for more information.

CORY SCHAEFFER
Salt Lake City

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