For a decade or so, a growing band of advocates has been moving, slowly but steadily, toward its goal of “looping America.” Their vision is to have induction loops installed in public venues all over the country, so that people who use telecoil-equipped hearing aids and cochlear implants will be able to hear and communicate effectively in noisy places despite their hearing loss.
This looping technology, which enables hearing aids to receive only the sounds coming directly from a microphone without the background noise, has been around for decades. While it is widely available in Scandinavia and Great Britain, it has been slow to catch on in the U.S.
However, the looping movement got a major boost this week when a lengthy article in the October 24 New York Times, entitled “A Hearing Aid That Can Cut Out All the Clatter,” gave this technology the kind of positive publicity that no amount of money could buy.
In the article, which was summarized that same day in the blog AARP News, Times reporter John Tierney led with the powerful story of a composer, Richard Einhorn, who had suddenly suffered a severe hearing loss last year at the age of 57. Even when he used headsets, he could no longer really enjoy the sound of music. But then, last June, he went to a performance of the musical Wicked at a loop-equipped concert hall at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.