The aim of the conference held in Winterthur, Switzerland in the autumn of 2009 was to provide a communication vehicle for future development, encourage best practice and seek to provide a better solution for hearing impaired people who live day to day with their often unseen disability.
Julian Pieters, Managing Director of world leading induction loop manufacturer and conference sponsor, Ampetronic said “This international conference has made it clear that the level of interest in loop systems is increasing rapidly across the world. Feedback from customers, end users, installers, distributors and hearing organisations reveal that loop systems are the most relevant and desirable for the hard of hearing, wherever they are, but awareness of the available solutions must be improved with the help of hearing professionals. We hope that by bringing together manufacturers, campaigners and audiologists in this way we are taking a big step forward towards a better solution for the hearing impaired.
Ampetronic’s system designer Richard Brooks spoke about the importance of installing a properly designed loop system “ Quite simply, a poorly designed and incorrectly installed system is the difference between muffled and unintelligible sound or crisp, clear sound that those of us without hearing difficulties take for granted- maybe if more people had to struggle with these poor and in most cases ‘not fit for purpose’ systems , getting them right would be taken a lot more seriously” he said.
98% of conference delegates expressed their support for induction loop technology, strongly advocating the adoption of standard compliant loop systems. Additionally two key recommendations were adopted by the conference:
- Hearing aid manufacturers, manufacturers of cochlear implants, physicians, audiologists and hearing instrument specialists shall communicate the benefits of hearing aid/cochlear implant telecoil receivers for phone listening and assistive listening and educate the hard of hearing accordingly.
- Venues and service points where sound is broadcast shall offer assistive listening, such as induction loop systems designed to the IEC 60118-4:2006 standard, that broadcast sound directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants, enabling them to serve as customised, wireless loudspeakers( without the need for extra equipment)
Attending the conference was prominent social psychologist and advocate of hearing aid compatible assistive listening, Dr. David Myers of Hope College, USA, who noted some important highlights of the conference. “Loop systems can recreate the listening clarity and signal to noise ratio that we would experience if standing one foot from someone speaking” he said. I was told by a Swedish hearing industry representative that in the Nordic countries, including Finland, assistive listening is almost entirely via hearing loops (as increasingly I am noting in the UK, as well, including the back seats of London, Glasgow and Edinburgh taxis, at 11,500 post office windows, and in most churches and cathedrals with public announcement systems)”
The conference was organised by the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH), ProAudito Winterthur and ProAudio Schweiz and was attended by representatives of hard of hearing and disability organisations, loop installers, hearing aid providers, the hearing aid and cochlear implant industry, manufacturers of assistive listening devices, as well as people with hearing impairment and cochlear implants.