Any time you think about making public spaces accessible for people with disabilities, the obvious first thing that comes to mind are modifications for wheelchairs. But what about accessibility for people with hearing loss? Installing a hearing loop improves speech and other sound for patrons with telecoil compatible hearing aids, is less expensive than other modifications and may increase visitors or customers. If you’re having a difficult time hearing the speakers at church, the actors at the local theatre, or at any other place you frequent, it may be possible to have a hearing loop put in with a little effort.
Churches and places of worship. While many mosques, synagogues and churches already have some type of hearing aid device, it might be outdated and inconvenient or the place you attend may not have one at all. If this applies to your favorite worship space, bring it to the attention of organizational leaders and be sure to mention how it will make hearing speakers much easier for their patrons. Outline the idea in a page of your weekly bulletin or community newsletter.
Auditoriums, theaters & sports arenas. The guidelines for the Americans for Disabilities Act require that assembly areas have a method of audio amplification for their visitors and this requirement is filled with the installation of a hearing loop. Contact the general manager of the venue and ask for a meeting. Be prepared to explain the costs involved as well as the benefits to the patrons and to the venue. For example, these places will see an increase in attendance because people with hearing challenges will be able to participate.
More tips. Whether you speak with the people in charge, write a letter or create a poster, it is important to share the facts to create understanding and awareness. Define hearing loop, its function and costs. Inform those in charge of the benefits to you and other patrons. Make a clear business argument that increased patronage will offset the cost of installing the hearing loop. And above all, be a friendly and helpful resource for your community.