Richard Wakefield, Arnold Johnson, David Knapp, Lee Smith & Marcellin Zahui , Grand Forks, N.D., letter: Why the U.S. trails Europe in hearing-loop installationThe suggestion that Americans’ preference for small hearing aids resulted in the slow development of loop technology here is wrong. The fact is, loop technology advanced in Europe primarily because of government support.
By: Richard Wakefield, Arnold Johnson, David Knapp, Lee Smith & Marcellin Zahui , Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — A recent story described a hearing-loop technology that lets people with a hearing aid or assistive listening device hear significantly better in any looped public facility equipped with a public-address system such as a theater, meeting room, concert hall or worship facility (“Get in the loop,” Page C3, July 8).
As reporter William Hageman of the Chicago Tribune points out, loop technology has been installed throughout the United Kingdom, but it has had a much slower start in the United States. Hageman infers that this is because European hearing aid users were less conscious of hearing aid size, which resulted in most hearing aids being equipped with telecoils.
He quotes Dr. Ronna Fisher’s statement that “most hearing aids in the United States didn’t have telecoils until the last year and a half,” thanks to Americans’ desire to wear smaller hearing aids.
But the suggestion that Americans’ preference for small hearing aids resulted in the slow development of loop technology here is wrong. The fact is, loop technology advanced in Europe primarily because of government support.
The telecoil component dates back to 1937; and in 1947, the telecoil was used in conjunction with a hearing aid to let hearing aid users hear on the phone electromagnetically without any audio feedback.
Today, 70 percent of the hearing aids dispensed in the United States have a telecoil and more than 90 percent of hearing aids used in northern Europe have telecoils.
If a hearing aid user attends a church or public facility in Grand Forks that has installed a hearing loop system, he or she should experience music and speech that is virtually free of background noise.
Modern Technology, Inc., currently is the only engineering company in North Dakota installing loop systems for the hearing impaired.