Get in the Hearing Loop Honors IHLMA

The International Hearing Loop Manufacturers Association (IHLMA) has joined the Get in the Hearing Loop movement, and IHLMA was honored by Cheri Perazzoli and the Get in the Hearing Loop leaders at the 2019 HLAA convention in Rochester, New York this summer.

The IHLMA aims to “support good quality loop installations around the world,” and is available to support and guide anyone interested in hearing loop systems. The association members adhere to a a code of conduct, and they offer technical resources and standards.

Members of IHLMA include….

Ampetronic    
Bo-Edin (Univox)     
Clear Audio Systems 
Contacta       
Conversor   
C-TEC   
Geemarc Telecom 
Hearing Products International 
HumanTechnik  
OPUS Technologies    
OTOjOY    
Sarabec 
Signet (AC)    
Williams Sound   

 – Manufacturer
 – Installer
 – Consultant
– Distributor
 – Training
 – Designer
 – Maintenance

IHLMA’s offices are based in Gloucester, UK. You can reach them at admin@ihlma.org, or for technical advice, technical@ihlma.org

 

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Lincoln Theatre Loop Still Going Strong

We were copied on this lovely note to Roger at the Lincoln Theatre from hearing loss advocates Jerry and Joanna Olmstead.

The Lincoln Theatre in Mt. Vernon was looped earlier this year—read more about it here.

You never know how many lives you touch with that simple copper loop, but notes like this remind you of why this work matters.

note from Jerry and Joanna
Click to enlarge.

 

 

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What hearing loss is really like: Kimberly Parker gives a rare workshop

kimberly 48 million

Kimberly Parker at the Poulsbo Library, September 21, 2019.

If you’ve seen Kimberly Parker’s one-woman show Lost in Sound, you know how talented and wise she is—and how powerfully she conveys the experiences of people with hearing loss through drama, story, and song. She’s also one of the stars of the Like the Mic video produced by Rooted in Rights.

On September 21, 2019, Kimberly brought her insights to the Poulsbo Library to present a rare workshop. She shared her own journey, which began with a genetic form of hearing loss–long undetected–that progressed to deafness at age 40, and then her experiences after her cochlear implant. 

Kimberly the young mom

Kimberly Parker as a young woman.

She also gave communication strategies and resources to help people with hearing loss determine how they can best move forward in their journey.

To provide the very best hearing access, a temporary loop (from Steve Peck–thank you!), CART, and ASL were available.

Kimberly credits HLAA for supporting her hearing loss path,  and we at HLAA-WA and Loop Seattle credit Kimberly for being a tremendous advocate and performer, shining the light on hearing loss in unique and relatable ways.

Thank you to the Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) for arranging this talk, especially Di Cinney, who attended in person. We’re proud to be your partner in serving Washigntonians with hearing loss.

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A small-town theatre invests big in a hearing loop

Mount Vernon 6

Do you love old theatres as much as we do? Especially theatres with springy seats, ornate artwork, tall curtains, the faint smell of popcorn, and a rich history of creating memories for their communities, however big or small?

Sometimes, though, these grand spaces don’t have the best acoustics. Not so for the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon, Washington: this beautiful venue is now in the loop.

Mount Vernon 7

The Lincoln Theatre, a restored 1926 historic vaudeville and silent movie housepresents a year-round schedule of concerts, current and classic films, and community and fundraising events. The theatre works with local school districts, hosting school performances and workshops by performing artists on tour. The local youth symphony plays at the Lincoln, as does a community-sponsored children’s theatre. Currently, the theater seats 489 and still houses the original 1926 Wurlitzer organ.

In January 2014, Jerry and Joanna Olmstead, award-winning hearing access heroes with  10 years’ loop advocacy experience (!), began the project by meeting with the folks at the Lincoln.  Later, the Sound + Hearing Campaign was born, led by The Lincoln Theatre Center Foundation. The campaign was successful in gaining donations and finally in establishing a high-quality audio and a loop system.

Mount Vernon 1

Lincoln Theatre also provides mobility accessibility for guests and performers–a lift gives performers wheelchair access to the stage, and guests .  Closed captioning devises and other assisted listening devises are also available.

Roger Gietzen, Lincoln Theatre Executive Director, is key in making the project come to life. Thank you, Roger. And thank you to the Olmsteads and to all who donated to enrich this wonderful community space, making it hearing-friendly and welcoming to all.

Mount Vernon 8 colorful

Venue Information:
Lincoln Theatre

712 S 1st Street
Mt. Vernon, WA
360-336-8955
Roger Gietzen, Executive Director
roger@lincolntheatre.org
Mount Vernon is roughly two hours north of Seattle.

Loop Installer:
Dimensional Communications, Inc.
Audio Visual Consultant
1214 Anderson RD.
Mt. Vernon, WA
360-424-6164

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Town Hall Debuts 3 New Hearing Loops

For more than 20 years, Town Hall Seattle has hosted affordable, inclusive performances and events. From celebrities to famous authors, concerts to big-name speakers, and science lectures to poetry slams, Town Hall has seen it all. But without a hearing loop, these events haven’t been very welcoming to people with hearing loss.

Town Hall 1 outside renovation

Town Hall Seattle renovation, 2019.

However, thanks to a recent multi-million-dollar renovation project for the historic building, Town Hall is now more inclusive than ever.

The building has a new elevator and at-grade entrances, and one of the most exciting new features is a hearing loop, also called an induction loop.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 percent of adults have hearing loss, so this new loop will benefit thousands of patrons every year.

 

“Simply put, it’s life-altering!” said Cheri Perazzoli, board trustee for the Hearing Loss Association of America and Director of Advocacy for Hearing Loss Association of Washington. “I can arrive at a venue confident that I’ll be able to hear, that I won’t have to rely on equipment or take my hearing aids out, and that I can create shared memories with my friends and family. Instead of separating and standing in line to check out equipment that may or may not work for me, I can mingle with friends, have a drink, and find a seat like everyone else. When the production begins, with the touch of a button, I can change the program to telecoil, which will provide immediate hearing assistance. Captions can be enormously helpful, but they’re a visual accessibility tool, not an audio one. Sound is a powerful thing. Loops create an equitable, inclusive experience.”

Town Hall ASL

Town Hall Seattle’s earlier loops in 2014, plus an ASL interpreter and live captions (CART).

What’s a Hearing Loop?

A hearing loop system transmits the audio signal directly to a Telecoil or, T-Coil equipped hearing aid or cochlear implant via a magnetic field, greatly reducing background noise, competing sounds, reverberation and other acoustic distortions that reduce clarity of sound. Users consider a hearing loop to be the most discreet assistive listening solution. It’s also compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and International Building Code standards.

“You simply turn your hearing aid to T or telecoil mode,” Perazzoli said. “You don’t have to out yourself as someone with hearing loss or sit in a special seat. You don’t have to call ahead and reserve equipment—which may not be available, charged, or sanitized—or spend time figuring it out. Loops minimize the burden of the ask and the learning curve, making access easier for people with hearing loss.”

A hearing loop has a slightly more complicated installation process than other assistive listening systems. A skilled, specialized installer selects the best equipment and then engineers a site-specific loop design. The loop—a copper wire—sends sound to users with cochlear implants or Telecoil technology in their hearing aids via an electromagnetic field. All the user must do is flip on a switch on his or her hearing aid or cochlear implant. The system can also be used by people without hearing aids, with a receiver and headphones provided by the venue.

“Hearing loops are the most user-friendly and widely used assistive listening technology for several reasons,” Perazzoli said. “They are a simple, cost-effective solution to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and speech understanding greatly. With room loops, there’s no pairing or connecting to additional equipment. The loop wirelessly transmits the sound directly to an individual’s cochlear implant or hearing aid without any additional equipment, such as headphones or neck loops!”

A hearing loop provides more than amplified sound for users. It delivers crystal-clear audio without vibrations, distortions, or other background noise.

“Typically, loops provide the most clarity and comprehension of any of the assistive listening systems,” she said. “They send sound right to our telecoils in our hearing aids, bypassing competing noise like coughing and side conversations. Basically, they shut out the noise we don’t want to hear.”

Debra Twersky, deputy director at 4Culture, an organization that is very active in King County providing social funding and support for the local cultural work, said one of her first experiences seeing a hearing loop in action was with a temporary loop that Perazzoli facilitated. “One of the people in the audience used hearing aids and had no idea she could flip a switch and have that experience. She burst into tears. It’s a profoundly impactful thing.”

What Made the Loop Possible at Town Hall?

Hearing loss advocates, Town Hall officials, cultural funding agency 4Culture, and donors came together to make the hearing loop part of the renovation of the historic Town Hall building.

“We became very interested in the idea of supporting assistive listening technology,” Twersky said. “ADA is a priority for us.”

She noted that 4Culture funds a variety of ADA-related improvements, such as elevators and ramps. “Of course,” she said, “the value of hearing loops is just far beyond what people think of as disability services.”

Listen Technologies, the exclusive North American distributor of Ampetronic products, supplied the hearing loop technology used at Town Hall.

Town Hall 2 Cheri David LAwrence Sam Burkinshaw

David Lawrence (Listen Technologies) and Sam Burkinshaw (Ampetronics) pose with Cheri Perazzoli during the Town Hall Seattle remodel

Town Hall isn’t the first building with a hearing loop in the area, but advocates are hoping it will be a model for other arts and cultural centers.

“My vision—my dream—is that every music, arts, culture, science, and civic event is accessible to everyone in every city in the world,” Perazzoli said. “Telecoils and hearing loops are a simple, reliable, universal solution for hearing assistance.”

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