A new system for the hearing impaired at Panorama Recreation Centre is allowing patrons of the popular rec centre to hear a little more clearly.
The system — called an induction hearing loop — was installed recently at the Centre and is already making patrons with hearing impairments very happy.
“The feedback we’ve received already is that the hearing loop makes attending group classes much easier for those with hearing loss,” explained Manager of Facilities and Operations at Panorama, Ron Reiberger.
The hearing loop system allows hearing impaired patrons to switch their hearing aid to the telephone coil setting if they’re in proximity of the hearing loop, allowing their hearing aid to receive a clearer and more direct signal from the person they are listening to.
“Roughly 75 to 80 per cent of hearing aids come with t-coil because it’s an old technology that’s been around for decades,” explained Tim Archer from Advance Listening Systems, the company that installed the hearing loop equipment.
“Because the hearing aids are already equipped with the necessary technology, there’s no need for the user to have any additional equipment, there’s no frequency to find, there’s no Bluetooth to pair, it’s so simple. Users just switch their aid to telephone mode and they can clearly hear what’s going on in the loop,” said Archer.
The technology is common in Europe, continued Archer, and is even legislated by the Disability Discrimination Act in the U.K., but hasn’t become the norm in North America yet.
“We’re trying to promote it locally because it’s a low-cost solution to increase accessibility,” said Archer.
Archer and Advance Listening Systems recently installed hearing loops in all 56 branches of Vancity Credit Unions in Victoria and the lower mainland and are seeing more and more interest in the systems.
“We’re promoting it mainly to assure people with hearing impairments that they can actually go to a noisy place, attend classes, order things and speak with bank tellers or cashiers without feeling embarrassed or feeling that they won’t be heard,” Archer said.
“We get lots of clients who say they don’t go to coffee shops, or banks or the grocery store because it’s too difficult to hear clearly in a busy place. Hearing loss or impairment is the invisible disability and people who suffer from it often take a step back in society.”
The hearing loop system at Panorama Recreation Centre is currently installed at the front desk and in the fitness studio and Reiberger said he hopes some of the next areas to receive the technology will be the boardroom, the pool mezzanine and the reception counter at Greenglade Community Centre.
“For the first time people with hearing impairments will be able to enjoy Panorama’s programming to a degree they haven’t been able to before,” said Reiberger.