Businesses and public facing organisations are, in many countries, legally obliged to make their premises and services accessible to people with hearing loss. Assistive listening technology can transform people’s experience of your venue or service, and can ensure they visit you time and again.

Installing assistive listening technology

Assistive listening technology can be installed and integrated into almost any environment. This technology amplifies sound in noisy environments, through protective screens, or for people who wear a hearing device because of hearing loss. The method of the installation depends on the technology most suitable for the setting.

Hearing loops deliver sound via a microphone directly to a user’s hearing aid, cutting out distracting background noise. These can be use in one-to-one or group settings.

Infrared systems use invisible IR light to transmit the sound to personal receivers. An ideal technology for settings where sound needs to be contained within a space for example, in cinemas, county chamber rooms or courtrooms.

FM, RF also known as radio frequency systems use radio waves to carry the sound across long distances. The sound can travel through walls and partitions, and compatible personal receivers are required to hear the sounds.

Window intercom systems transfer speech through barriers such as security screens or clear barriers installed against infection. They benefit everyone and allow customers and staff to hear each other clearly.

Staying Switched On

Once your assistive listening technology has been installed, it’s important to make sure it’s switched on – and stays on.

Some models have an energy-saving ‘sleep’ function. The units can detect the difference between noise and speech and will only activate when speech is detected.

If you’ve refurbished premises since a system was installed, check systems haven’t been unplugged.

Maintenance

Maintain your investment and book in regular checks.

An engineer will pick up any accidental damage that may have affected the product’s performance.

If your venue has had a refit since the system was installed, the changes might also mean a maintenance visit is needed.

Signage

People need to know assistive listening technology is in place in order to benefit from it. Make sure signs are displayed to show what is available.

The hearing loop sign is recognised the world over so is key for venues welcoming international visitors.

Make sure your website has information so potential visitors and customers can see how accessible your venue is.

“It was a delight for me to bring along a couple of friends and observe their reactions to the hearing loop system. Both said they would definitely choose to shop in a store where there was a good loop system in operation.”

– Julia, Kent

Staff training

There are more than 460 million people worldwide living with hearing loss.

Make sure staff are aware assistive technology is in place and how to use it.

Portable hearing loops that enable clear one-to-one conversation, need to be charged and staff need to be confident in using them. Make sure they are kept in a designated place so they can be found easily.

Providing a good service will ensure loyalty to your business.

Top Tips for Communication with Someone with Hearing Loss

  1. If you’re wearing a facemask, ask if they would like you to remove it. They may rely on lip-reading to help them understand what’s being said.
  1. Face the person and give them your full attention.
  1. Speak clearly but normally – don’t shout or over-emphasize your words.
  1. Try rephrasing what you’re saying.
  1. Have a pen and paper to hand and write things down if necessary.
  1. Make eye contact and maintain it while you are talking.

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