Bringing People With Hearing Assistance Needs Into the ‘Loop’

2 June 2016

This article appeared on IowaNow on April 29, 2013

By Stephen Pradarelli

Carly Armour isn’t one to shrink from challenges.

The University of Iowa disability adviser bought snowshoes her first winter in Iowa after moving from her native Georgia six years ago. Born profoundly deaf in both ears, she has also taken advantage of a wide range of assistive services and technologies, from sign-language interpreters to hearing aids and, today, cochlear implants.

But even under the best of circumstances, the experience of attending a lecture, concert, or sporting event can be less than satisfying. Distracting background noise and fluky (not to mention attention-drawing) headsets used in more common hearing assistance systems can make it hard to comprehend spoken words or enjoy music (Armour, incidentally, is a fan of Adele, P!nk, Little Big Town, and the Indigo Girls, among other artists).

Then last fall, Armour took part in a demonstration of something called a hearing loop. Unlike systems that send FM or infrared signals to headsets that users must wear over their hearing devices, the newer technology sends a signal directly to the hearing aid or cochlear implant. The clarity, Armour recalls, was unprecedented.

“I was amazed at how it sounded like the speaker was right next to me talking directly to me,” Armour says. “I’m excited for how much it’ll help others.”

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