When you consider making public places accessible for people with disabilities, the obvious first image you think of are modifications for wheelchairs. But what about accessibility for people with hearing loss? In conjunction with telecoil hearing aids or cochlear implants, hearing loops clear up sounds for hearing challenged individuals, are a more affordable investment than other modifications for the disabled and may generate more visitors. If you or your loved ones find that hearing the normal activity at places you visit regularly is a difficult task, you can help initiate positive change.

Churches and places of worship. While many places of worship are fitted with amplification equipment, many are incompatible or inconvenient and there are many places without them at all. If this applies to your favorite worship space, bring it to the attention of the leadership and be sure to mention how a hearing loop will make listening to sermons easier for their members. Outline the idea in a page of your weekly bulletin or community newsletter.

Theatres and gathering places. Assembly areas are required by the Americans for Disabilities Act guidelines to be fitted with hearing amplification systems to accommodate patrons. To promote this need, you can write to or meet with the people in charge of these public spaces and business to explain the need and benefits. For example, accommodating the hearing challenged will increase the number of visitors in these places.

Information to share. No matter how you choose to bring up the matter, create understanding by sharing facts, promoting awareness for the need and garnering understanding. You’ll probably need to start at the beginning by explaining what a hearing loop system is and how it works. You’ll want to have some estimated figures on cost. Inform those in charge of the benefits to you and other patrons. Make a clear business argument that increased patronage will offset the cost of installing the hearing loop. Even if they don’t engage in the concept the first time, make yourself available as a resource for further information and ask if you can check in with them every couple of months to continue the discussion.

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