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Hearing Loop

Hearing Loop

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Published by TheLivingChurchdocs
With the flip of a telecoil switch, the vast sound distance between priest and pew is eliminated.
With the flip of a telecoil switch, the vast sound distance between priest and pew is eliminated.

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Published by: TheLivingChurchdocs on Sep 04, 2012
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Juanita Yoder Liturgical Art
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8
THE LIVING CHURCH • September 9, 2012
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By Lauren Anderson
The Gospel reading ends and it sounded muddled.Now, as the sermon begins, it’s hard to piece thewords together, like attempting a phone conversationduring bad reception. No one else can tell, though,because hearing loss is an invisible disability.For the 36 million Americans with hearing loss,attending worship services can be an isolating expe-rience. Reverberation, background noise, or even a quiet minister can make it difficult to hear a messagecoherently.David Myers, a professor of psychology at Hope College who hasexperienced this problem many times, described it as “being cogni-tively locked out and stuck there.” But then Myersattended a service at Iona Abbey in Scotland. AsMyers listened to the cloud of sound reverberate off the800-year-old stone walls,hiswifepointed to asignwith a 
on it, which referred to a small componentin hearing aids called a telecoil.Myers flipped the telecoil switch on the back of hisrecently purchased hearing aid. Suddenly, the verbalfog of noise distilled into a crisp voice reaching thecenter of his head. Myers didn’t know this level of clarity was possiblein church.The
sign indicated that Iona Abbey was equipped with a “hearingloop,” a wire surrounding a room which sends magnetic signals froman audio system to hearing aids. A hearing aid’s telecoil receptor, a component found in 69 percent of hearing aids, picks up the signal andamplifies it directly to the ear, acting as a personal loudspeaker. Withthe flip of the hearing aid’s telecoil switch, the vast sound distancebetween priest and pew is eliminated, allowing the person to hear withthe clarity of a one-on-one conversation. After experiencing hearing loops in Europe, where the technologyfirst emerged 40 years ago, Myers knew he needed to bring this dis-covery home to Holland, Michigan. Since his return, Myers has advo-catedforhearing-loopsystemsinvenuesthroughoutWesternMichigan.In the past 13 years more than 350 venues, including churches, schools,libraries and businesses throughout Western Michigan, have installedloops. His advocacy has spread nationwide, with churches at the fore-front of the movement.St. Francis of the Valley Church’s hearing loop has become vital tothe church’s ministry since its installation several years ago, the Rev.Daniel Messier says. Located in the Arizona retirement communityknown as Green Valley, St. Francis serves a congregation widelyaffected by hearing loss. Many members rely on the loop during wor-ship. The church is equipped with loops in the sanctuary and parishhall, and provides signs throughout the church to raise awareness of the system. Messier says the loop is essential to the mission and min-
PARISH INITIATIVE
Back in the Loop
Telecoil technology helpsbelievers hear more clearly
 
September 9, 2012 • THE LIVING CHURCH
9
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istry of the congregation, as itincreases accessibility for all mem-bers.“We have now broadened our pos-sibilitiesinworship,Messiersaid.“Ithink our numbers would be muchlower if we didn’t have that pro-gram, because if someone feels iso-lated and can’t hear what’s going on,it affects their participation.”Most American churches use FMassistive hearing technology, whichdelivers microphone sound to user’s ear using headphones and a handheld receiver box. Typically,FM systems require users to go totheback ofthechurch topickupthedevice and are used by multiple peo- ple, raising hygienic concerns. Theequipment is also one-size-fits-alland tends to be incompatible witheach user’s hearing needs.“FM systems are well-intended,but people don’t really want to lookdifferent. They would rather nothear. So there are a lot of people just sitting in church not hearingwell,”said Juliette Sterkens, an audi-ologist and advocate with the Hear-ing Loss Association of America. “If  you are the grandma of the bride inawedding,areyou going to go to the
Grace Church photo
Grace Church in Holland, Michigan, was one ofthe first in the United States to install a hearingloop system, eliminating the vast sound distancebetween pulpit and pew.(Continued from page 33)

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