Hearing Loops: New Downtown Library to Feature Assistive Listening Technology

On April 25, the Arlington City Council approved the addition of hearing loops to the new George W. Hawkes Downtown Library.

This assistive listening technology broadcasts sound directly into modern hearing aids, allowing patrons with hearing loss to wirelessly and automatically participate in Library programming.

Hearing loops magnetically transfer microphone sound signals to hearing aids and cochlear implants that contain a tiny, telecoil, or T-coil, receiver. Hearing aids are helpful in conversational settings, where the sound is close to the listener. They can provide unclear sound if the source is far away; if the setting is noisy; or if there are echoes. The hearing loop system removes these problems by broadcasting sound directly into hearing aids or cochlear implants, which are already customized to a person’s specific needs.

“When people come to events at the new Downtown Library, we want it to be a seamless experience for everyone,” said Yoko Matsumoto, Director of Libraries. “The new hearing loops will send signals from our sound system directly to our patrons’ hearing aids, so they can join the program right away.”

An estimated 30 million people in America live with hearing loss in at least one ear, so the hearing loops will provide a much-needed service. Modern hearing aids and cochlear implants also increasingly include T-coils. As this trend continues, most assistive listening devices will be compatible with hearing loops. The system includes portable receivers and headsets as well.

The new Downtown Library will feature hearing loops in all public areas with a microphone system. Nine rooms in the new Library, as well as the shared Council Chamber and Community Center, will include both microphones and hearing loops. This will provide hearing assistance during all public meetings, presentations, classes, and other events held in the new Downtown Library and Community Center and Council Chamber.

Click here to join the Library’s Community Conversations on providing accessible Library services, or here for information on the new George W. Hawkes Downtown Library.