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What is a Hearing Loop, Induction Loop or T-Loop?

An Induction Loop, also known as a Hearing Loop or T-Loop, is an assistive listening system that provides access to facilities for those with a hearing impairment. It takes a sound source and transfers it directly to a hearing aid via a magnetic field without background noise interference or distortion.

The presence of an Induction Loop should always be indicated by the internationally recognised hearing impaired sign with a T symbol.

Over the last 25 years Hearing Loops have become the default assistive listening solution in Europe, Scandinavia and Australasia, and are now becoming increasing prevalent in America. Due to their benefits and ease of use, hard of hearing groups are mandating their installation in locations as diverse as taxis, kiosks, schools, houses of worship, concert halls and stadiums.

Why use a hearing loop?

  • Cuts out unwanted background noise
  • No need to use a receiver/headset
  • Sound goes directly into the hearing aid
  • Can be used by anyone with a compatible hearing aid
  • It is inconspicuous
  • Cost effective
  • Any number of users can use the system

Are all hearing aids compatible with induction loops?

Sadly, not all hearing aids are fitted with the loop facility. In the UK, almost all NHS aids are equipped with a 'T' position, as are many privately sold aids. In the UK private sector, it is often the audiologist who decides whether to offer the loop reception facility, but generally they do offer aids with a 'T' setting. At present, about 95% of hearing aids in the UK are said to have the loop receiving function.

Digital hearing aids work in exactly the same way as ordinary analogue aids in terms of induction loop use but you must make sure that the digital hearing aid has a 'T' switch position. As far as we are aware, all digital hearing aids supplied by the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK have a 'T' coil facility. Privately dispensed digital aids may or may not have a 'T' coil. As policies over 'T' coil provision in hearing aids vary around the world - check with your audiologist about this before you buy, as it may affect what they offer to you. Many digital hearing aids allow the option of setting the relative levels between microphone and 'T' coil inputs to be adjusted by the audiologist. If the loop signal is quiet / loud relative to normal microphone use, ask your audiologist to adjust it for you.

What sort of places can a Hearing Loop be used in?

Although Hearing Loops have traditionally been used in places such as houses worship and conference rooms, advances in technology have allowed the spread of the technology to areas including:

Stadiums, theatres, cinemas, concert halls, sports halls, courts, lecture halls, school classrooms, video concerning suites, meeting rooms, museum exhibits, fairground rides, taxis, help points, nursing homes, domestic TV rooms, retail counters, receptions, transport stations, waiting rooms, boats, minibuses, cars and trains.

What is overspill?

Overspill is the magnetic field outside the area of the loop system. Induction loop systems are designed for hearing aid users to be present within the area of the loop. As the magnetic field will travel through walls, ceilings and floors there will always be some overspill.

This means that hearing aid users outside the looped area may be able to overhear conversations if their hearing aids are switched to 'T' position. The magnetic field of a simple one loop system will overspill into adjoining rooms and rooms directly above and below. 

Does metal in a building interfere with a loop system?

Metalwork, particularly aluminium, can have an unpredictable effect on loop system performance. Other external factors can affect the performance of an induction loop system. Reinforced concrete floors, steel lintels, corrugated steel cladding and other types of metalwork all have an effect on the performance of the induction loop system.

Any aluminium based building product extensively used throughout the building may have a dramatic effect up on the performance of the induction loop system. In extreme cases it may prohibit the installation of a loop system because its effect has degraded the sound quality and strength to an unacceptable level.