Hearing Augmentation Systems – why we need them in public buildings!

People with hearing loss commonly use hearing devices, like hearing aids or cochlear implants to improve their hearing. These hearing devices are generally great one to one, with no background noise. But in an auditorium, the person with hearing loss hears the noise, but cannot understand what is being said.

This is due to the “echoes” in the room (also called reverberation) which people cannot distinguish, but “blurs” the sound.

The solution is to install a Hearing Augmentation System, which allows a deaf, hearing impaired or hard of hearing user to hear the output signal directly in their ear using a hearing device. With such a device the user is able to hear the sound without reverberation or background noise. Furthermore they are able to hear speech clearly where otherwise they would have struggled or been unable to understand anything.

Hearing augmentation in public buildings

What are Hearing Augmentation Systems?

3 types of Hearing Augmentation Systems

Comparison of Hearing Augmentation Features

Hearing Augmentation Audits & Legal requirements

Why choose us for your Hearing Augmentation System?

Hearing augmentation in public buildings

What are Hearing Augmentation Systems?

There are three types of Hearing Augmentation Systems:

 

These systems typically connect to the output of an existing PA / sound system / sound source. This can include wireless microphones, TVs and music systems both in the home and in public places.

The signal is typically received by the consumer using a hearing aid or cochlear implant on the telecoil (previously known as the "T Switch") setting, however some systems can be used with headphones if the user does not wear hearing devices.

 
 

3 types of Hearing Augmentation Systems 

 

  Type 1 – Hearing Loop System  

The Hearing Loop System is the only system not requiring receivers!

A Hearing Loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop) is a system for use by people with hearing devices with a Telecoil. Alternatively, receivers are available for those not using hearing devices or whose hearing devices do not have a Telecoil.

The Hearing Loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal and consists of a Loop Amplifier which connects to the sound system output. The amplifier sends the signal through an installed cable 'loop' which is run either in / under the floor / carpet or in the ceiling. By being run as a complete loop the cable acts as an antenna allowing the signal to be picked up by the hearing device when it is set to Telecoil setting.

Hearing Loops require installation by a professional experienced with this product (such as Hearing Connections). If not installed correctly, users may be required to tilt their head at an awkward angle to pick up the signal or find unexpected dead spots in the area.

Hearing Loop concept where no metal is present in the building structure

Hearing Loop concept | Hearing Connections
Hearing Loop concept | Hearing Connections

Complex Hearing Loop arrays for adjacent areas, concrete and steel framed buildings

Complex Hearing Loop arrays | Hearing Connections
Complex Hearing Loop arrays | Hearing Connections

Advantages of the Hearing Loop System:

 

  • The Hearing Loop System is the only system not requiring receivers!

  • Discrete for the user, they don't have to identify themselves

  • Users don't have to find out where to collect receivers

  • There are no receiver batteries to fail

  • There are no receiver attachments to fail

  • Receivers cannot get lost or damaged by users or staff

  • Less training is required for staff to run the system

  • No ongoing cost for maintenance of receivers (e.g. repairs and replacement batteries)

  • Not open to DDA complaint for lack of working receivers or attachments

  • Unlimited amount of Telecoil users at no additional cost

You can test any Hearing Loop System with the Hearing Loop Listener, Receiver & Tester.

For those with hearing loss who don't have a hearing aid or cochlear implant (or don't have a telecoil), use the Loop Receiver to enjoy hearing through the Hearing Loop System, using the included headphones. Alternatively, you may wish to use your own earbuds with the Loop Listener.

  Type 2 – FM System  

An FM System is for use by people with or without hearing devices.

An FM System is made up of one base station transmitter connected to the sound system output. Depending on the device, the transmitter can be located with the sound system or in a nearby room.

The receivers are approximately 9.5 x 5 cm and are worn with a lanyard around the neck with an appropriate attachment. One receiver and attachment is required per user. Each receiver is commonly fitted with rechargeable batteries that require charging after each use.

For both FM and the Infrared systems every receiver must be provided with attachments to suit both types of users, those with hearing devices with a Telecoil, and those who do not have hearing devices, or do not have a Telecoil. These attachments will be in the form of a Neckloop for Telecoil users and a headset for other users (headsets must work for both ears for speech clarity and DDA compliance).

 
FM Hearing Augmentation System | Hearing Connections
FM Hearing Augmentation System | Hearing Connections
Headphones | Hearing Connections
Neckloop | Hearing Connections

Headphones and neckloop to be included with every receiver, to comply with legal requirements.

  Type 3 – Infrared System  

An Infrared System is for use by people with or without hearing devices.

 

An Infrared System is made up of usually two or more wall mounted emitters connected to the sound system output. These emitters use non-visible light to transmit the signal from the emitters to body worn receivers. Due to the light signal, this is a line-of-sight system and any disruption or blockage of the signal (even temporarily) can disrupt the sound. This can take the form of a person walking between the emitter and the user, or the user turning in another direction if there are not an adequate amount of emitters.

 

To achieve a practical and sufficient outcome an adequate number of emitters need to be used, and correctly mounted; taking into account the height of people occupying the room, and the direction they are facing.

 

The receivers are approximately 9.5 x 5 cm and are worn with a lanyard around the neck with an appropriate attachment. One receiver and attachment is required per user. Each receiver is commonly fitted with rechargeable batteries that require charging after each use.

 

For Infrared systems every receiver must be provided with attachments to suit both types of users, those with hearing devices with a Telecoil, and those who do not have hearing devices, or do not have a Telecoil. These attachments will be in the form of a Neckloop for Telecoil users and a headset for other users (headsets must work for both ears for speech clarity and DDA compliance).

 
Infrared Hearing Augmentation System | Hearing Connections
Infrared Hearing Augmentation System | Hearing Connections
IR Receiver | Hearing Connections
Headphones | Hearing Connections
Neckloop | Hearing Connections

Headphones and neckloop to be included with every receiver, to comply with legal requirements.

Comparison of Features

** SoundField only meets legal requirements when receivers are provided as per NCC requirements

 

Hearing Augmentation Audits

Hearing Connections can provide audits at your location of any installed Hearing Augmentation System.

The audits can be based on:

 

  • compliance with the minimum requirements for a working Hearing Augmentation System, or

  • compliance with NCC/BCA requirements, or

  • compliance with AS 1428.5, or

  • compliance with any combination of the above

 

Hearing Connections can discuss the best approach with you.

Legal requirements

There are numerous legal requirements involving Hearing Augmentation Systems and signs for them:

  • NCC - National Construction Codes (previously BCA - Building Codes of Australia - Sections D3.6 and 3.7)

  • DDA - Disability Discrimination Act 1992

  • Fit for Purpose (each state has its own fair trading laws requiring all systems to be fit for purpose)

  • Australian Standard AS 1428.5 - 2010 (applies if listed in a contract)

 

Why choose Hearing Connections for your Hearing Augmentation System?

Hearing Connections is built on the experience of our Managing Director, Andrew Stewart, who:

has been wearing hearing aids since age 7, and now wears two cochlear implants

knows both sides of the story – the lived experience, and the electronics qualifications

has been specialising in Hearing Augmentation Systems for over 33 years

was instrumental in the writing of the definitive Australian Standard AS 1428.5

has conducted research and development of Hearing Augmentation systems for improved outcomes

has spent over 33 years designing, installing and commissioning Hearing Augmentation systems (loop systems, FM systems, sound field systems and public address systems) for a range of public access buildings, from small halls to significant buildings and venues, including Sydney Opera House and airports

lectures in Hearing Augmentation for building professionals

lectures to Audiologists

provides training in Hearing Augmentation for Access Consultants, Building certifiers and surveyors, and architects

has over 20 years of advocating for the needs of deaf and hearing impaired people

is a life member of Deafness Forum of Australia

has won numerous awards for service in advocating for the needs of deaf and hearing impaired people