Have you ever been in a religious service or meeting in a large room and wished you could more easily hear the speaker? Because of the size of the room, and the distance from the primary speaker to you, there is a reverberation (almost an echo) that makes hearing and understanding more difficult. The speech is muddled in a sea of sound that can make understanding nearly impossible you, especially if you have a hearing loss.
Why is it so hard to hear at church?
Large meeting rooms, such as church sanctuaries have high ceilings and hard surfaces which cause sound waves to bounce around the space from one hard surface to another. The bouncing of the sound waves causes the speech to be difficult to understand. And then there’s the problem of the speaker being quite a distance from you.
According to Jon F. Eiche, Editor, Yamaha Guide to Sound Systems for Worship^1, reverberation is caused by the reflection of sounds from one surface to another. Short reverberation can be perceived as pleasant but excessive reverberation makes speech difficult to understand.
Turning up the volume, even with hearing aids, may not help! The problem is not that the speech sounds are not loud enough, the speech is difficult to hear because of the reverberation of the sounds in the large room.
How can you hear better at church?
Public places are required by the Americans With Disabilities Act^2 (ADA) to have assistive listening devices available. These devices are usually composed of a box, usually about the size of a pack of cigarettes, with a wire connected to ear buds or headphones on the end of the wire. The “box” receives a radio signal sent from the public address system.
Usually one of these devices can be checked out by giving someone your driver’s license or other form of identification. Often people don’t want to check the devices out because they have to tell someone (by asking for the device) that they have a hearing problem. Or when they wear the device, it advertises to all around that they have trouble hearing. Another major issue is they do not want to use a device that has been used by many other people and may not have been sanitized.
Is there a better way to hear at church?
The answer is to get improved speech sounds into your ear without having to put something in your ear that is used by many people or having to wear a large device that advertises your problem hearing problem.
You want something that is simple to use, discrete, and that works.
An induction loop hearing system meets these criteria. It has been around for many years and is being used extensively in Europe. It is easy and it is personalized using your hearing aid. It works with many people at one time as they use their own hearing aids. With the hearing loop system, you can hear what is being said into the microphone by the minister or speaker, just like they were right in front of you.
The induction loop system consists of a transmitter that connects directly to the public address system. From the transmitter, there is a small wire that is inconspicuously mounted around the sanctuary. A signal is transmitted through the wire, which is picked up by hearing aids that have an enabled telecoil (or t-coil).
The induction loop system is an excellent way for many people to have greater ease of hearing while using a single, simple system. The induction loop system has a high level of acceptance because each person is using their own hearing devices set for their hearing needs. There is no need to manage an inventory of FM receivers and ear buds. The induction loop system more hygienic because you are using your own hearing aids. It is convenient because to use it all you have to do is flip a switch. There is no need to check out a listening system. You have it with you in your hearing aids!
Some hearing aids have t-coils and some do not. Since the t-coils do require space in a hearing aid, smaller hearing aids may not have them. Many hearing aids have the t-coil, but the t-coil may not have been activated when the devices were programmed. It’s easy for your hearing instrument professional to determine if your hearing aid(s) have a t-coil.
Preparing your hearing aids to work with an induction loop system is an excellent way to improve your ability to pay attention to what’s being said at church–instead of feeling frustrated because you can’t hear.
Please don’t let the joy of going to church evaporate because of a problem hearing.
You can contact Lakewood Hearing & Speech Center at (303) 988-7299 or Assist2Hear at 877-338-1084 for more information.
For additional information on the induction loop systems, go to Assist2Hear
For information on how your hearing aids can work with an induction loop system, contact Lakewood Hearing & Speech Center at (303) 988-7299 or Lakewood Hearing & Speech Center.
^1 Jon F. Eiche, Editor, Yamaha Guide to Sound Systems for Worship, Yamaha Corporation of America, 1990.
^2 Americans With Disabilities Act, 2010.