TOWN OF HUNTINGTON, New York, August 28
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Businesses, libraries, public venues and houses of worship throughout Huntington are looking to cancel out their hearing-impaired clientele’s biggest enemy: noise.
“Any environment that isn’t quiet provides challenge for the hearing impaired… Distance, reverberation and negative room acoustics all cause less-than-perfect listening environments,” Lori Trentacoste, a doctor of audiology for Island Better Hearing, which has audiology offices in Huntington and Melville, said. “With induction loop systems, whether a patient is using a hearing aid or a headset they were provided with, it will create a system where the signal of whatever is being said is coming directly into the ear.”
These induction loops – an electromagnetic listening system – allow people with hearing problems a direct connection to whatever it is they want to hear through a compatible listening device – and they’re typically wireless.
Churches with induction loops link up to the priest or sermon’s microphone, providing the user direct access to what’s being said without the added background noise.
Businesses, like Island Better Hearing, which in August had its offices looped by the Akron, Ohio-based company, Get Looped, sync up the waiting room television to the system, allowing patients a comfortable listening environment without the jibber-jabber of a hustling and bustling office.
“Induction loops were out of favor, but now they’re starting to come back,” Stefanie Wolf, doctor of audiology for Audiology of Nassau County in Rockville Centre, said. “The population is getting older… There are so many people who wear hearing aids on Long Island… but we’re seeing people younger and younger who want to take action and won’t accept that hearing loss is a part of aging.”
For these people that have hearing aids, becoming induction loop compatible is simple – and might be available with the flick of a switch. Hearing aids already equipped with a tele-coil simply need to be activated and then, with the press of a button, the patient can access a loop system wherever it may be. Anyone else, Trentacoste said, has the option of upgrading their hearing aid to one with a tele-coil or, alternatively, can acquire a headset compatible with induction loops – which are sometimes provided by the venues with the systems.
“The system uses absolutely no battery life from the hearing and aid and is always 100 percent successful,” Trentacoste, of Commack, said. “Senior centers, funeral homes, bus stations, movie theaters, colleges and universities… Even places like the Heckscher Museum of Art [should be looped]. There isn’t a place in Europe that isn’t looped.”
Trentacoste, 51, said that despite portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which urges employers to provide employees with hearing disabilities listening and communicating accommodations, induction loops just simply haven’t caught on yet.
But venues around Huntington are gearing up for what may be the upcoming push.
“Adding this type of [loop] system is one of the items under consideration for the updating of the Town Board room, which is in the planning and design stage,” Town of Huntington spokesman A.J. Carter said.
Old First Presbyterian Church on Main Street in Huntington village said it already offers hearing-impaired visitors listening options, but not specifically a loop system. In Melville, though, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a Roman Catholic Church, is equipped with a loop system – but is still learning how to properly advertise it, Trentacoste said.
“It’s a good thing that they installed the system, but not so great that the people who go to the church don’t know much about it,” she said.
Trentacoste has been in contact with the church to try and help explain what the system is to its visitors.
Libraries are also preparing to loop up.
Marva Laronde, secretary for Half Hollow Hills Community Library director Michele Lauer-Bader, said that the library is also looking into induction loop technology and has plans to implement it in an upcoming building project.
The libraries in Northport and Commack do not yet have an induction loop system installed, but were intrigued at the idea and said that they would consider it in future plans for the libraries.
Joe Latini, director of the South Huntington Public Library, noted that the library has “explored hearing impaired devices in the past” and, while they’re nice to have, he said, the cost of installing them is not always appealing.
To this notion, though, Trentacoste responds by saying that she believes a loop system may actually save money in the long run by increasing employee productivity.
“People that are employed may not be able to do the best job without [proper hearing],” she said. “There’s always that someone who looks at the cost of something… [But] this system is installed by a professional, it’s not expensive and provides the opportunity to hear better and understand better.”
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills (Thursday, August 28, 2014; A7)