Kudos to The Hearing Journal for making the topic of loops and telecoils front-page news! (HJ 2012;64:14; http://bit.ly/HJseptCover.) I will be the first to say that wireless connectivity, increasingly available from a variety of hearing aid manufacturers, is a definite improvement in the quality of life for many of my patients, regardless of age. Audiologists and dispensers, however, are forgetting the age-old t-coil, which is just as powerful. I believe for the foreseeable future there will always be a need for loops and telecoils. We need to give our patients the best of both worlds.
We are fortunate in New Mexico to have an amazing advocacy group, Loop New Mexico, an initiative of the Hearing Loss Association of Albuquerque, and people like Juliëtte Sterkens, AuD, who advocate for loops. New Mexico has more than 70 public venues and churches looped through the tireless work of individuals like HLAA's Steve Frazier. Our looping initiative has been spearheaded by consumers who know what a difference it can make in their lives. Practitioners need to join forces with consumers and raise our voices to the hearing aid manufacturers who may not realize how this improves quality of life, even in open fit devices. I cannot think of a better way to raise public awareness of hearing loss.
Carol Clifford, AuD
Dr. Sterkens responds: Thank you for writing this letter in support of hearing loops. It is good that we audiologists are raising our voice to let the hearing healthcare community know how hearing loops improve quality of life. You are right: the “age-old t-coil” is currently the only technology that will link users in large venues.
Everyone involved with hearing loops knows how each loop raises awareness of hearing loss and that this is good for business. Imagine if every manufacturer would offer co-op funding for an installed hearing loop like they now offer for one-page ads in newspapers. We would reach a tipping point in the hearing loop movement in no time and everyone benefits, particularly hearing aid users.