What is an Audio Frequency Induction Loop System and how does it support those with a hearing impairment?
Induction Loop System is an audio technology with supports improved hearing and communication for people with a hearing impairment.
Audio Induction Loops; sometimes also referred to as Hearing Loops, Audio Frequency Induction Loops or AFILS, offer an assistive listening system for people affected by forms of hearing impairment, particularly those who use a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
Since the introduction in the UK of the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act; both of which were put in place to provide non-discriminatory services in public access areas, assistive technologies have seen widespread implementation in public access areas such as retail, banking, post offices, classrooms, churches and doctors’ surgeries in roder to provide inclusive environments for all.
An Induction Loop System consists of a loop – or array of looped – cables which are positioned or installed around a designated area of coverage (such as a room, building or reception desk,) an induction loop amplifier and an audio source.
By connecting an audio source, (which could be a microphone, music source or a television for instance) to the induction loop amplifier, the audio signal is transmitted via the loop cable and received as a wireless signal by the hearing aid or loop receiver device.
The ‘loop’ of cable generates a magnetic field signal throughout the area of coverage, transmitting the audio signal which can be received by the telecoil of hearing aids, cochlear implants and specific loop receiver devices.
To use the induction loop system, the hearing aid user simply switches his or her hearing aid to the "T" position.
This provides ‘noise-free’ transmission of the required audio source, defining a more ‘pure’ signal, rather than the ‘overall’ sound received by a hearing aid or cochlear implant used in ‘standalone’ mode – which will not only amplify the required audio, but will also pick-up all other ambient sounds in the area such as other voices, traffic noise or dragging of chairs.
For example; Audio Induction Loop systems are available in a variety of different sizes and formats, to meet the needs, for instance, of room size and coverage, as well as permanent installation or portability.
An induction loop system to provide coverage for a church, for example, would require a high power, professional induction loop amplifier which is permanently installed in the building and designed to provide coverage of up to 1000 square metres. For instance; when the church service can be relayed across the whole congregation.
Whereas in a high street bank, the area of coverage required is likely to only be each individual window at the counter, which might be limited to just 1 or 2 square metres each. In this case, small loop amplifiers could be installed; one for each cashier area. Using a 'loop' cable which is either embedded in a desktop mat or installed underneath each counter. This will ensure that the customer only receives the voice signal of their cashier, and not the bank account details of the customer at the next counter.
Induction loop systems are also commonly available in portable versions. In some applications, for instance a school or office environment; there may be specific students or staff with a hearing impairment who would benefit from an induction loop. But to install systems in every room in the building would be prohibitive.
A portable loop system provides an ‘all-in-one’ solution – a microphone to pick up the teachers’ or colleagues’ voices, an audio line input (for sound sources such as an MP3 player or DVD), an internal ‘loop’ (providing localised coverage of perhaps 1.5 metres) and a rechargeable battery allowing for wireless functionality and even greater portability.
A portable induction loop device is lightweight and discreet – allowing for assisted hearing wherever it’s required in the building.
Installed and portable Induction Loop Systems are available for a wide variety of applications and ensuring you choose the right product is essential for improved hearing and communication with customers, students, service users. Even family members at home who may have a hearing disability.
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