University of Iowa launches a major hearing loop initiative

This looping symbol is becoming a familiar sight at the University of Iowa. Tim Schoon photo
This looping symbol is becoming a familiar sight at the University of Iowa. Tim Schoon photo

IOWA CITY, IA—The University of Iowa is making a major commitment to improving access to its facilities for people with hearing loss. As reported last week in Iowa Now, the university’s information web site, an induction loop was recently installed in an 84-seat lecture hall in a medical laboratories building in the College of Medicine. That was the first of what will be a number of hearing loops installed over the next few years on the University of Iowa campus.

“Looping” a room involves installing a copper wire around the perimeter of the room and connecting the room’s audio system to the loop.  Anyone within the loop who has a telecoil-equipped hearing aid or cochlear implant can have sound magnetically transmitted directly into their ears. Often, people using the loop system hear a speaker as well as or better than those around them with normal hearing but no telecoil.

Over the next five years, the University of Iowa will have loops installed in several other locations, including in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building and in the Hancher Auditorium, which seats 1800 people. The Hancher is being rebuilt in place of the original building, which was heavily damaged by a flood in 2008.

 

A MOTIVATED DISABILITY ADVISER

A driving force behind the looping initiative is the University of Iowa’s disability adviser, Carly Armour. Armour, who was born profoundly deaf in both ears, has long used various types of assistive technology. However, not until last October did she experience a hearing loop system.

She was amazed by the clarity, she told Stephen Pradarelli, a reporter with Iowa Now, telling him, “It sounded like the speaker was right next to me talking directly to me. I’m excited for how much it’ll help others.”

Not surprisingly, David Myers, also played a role in getting the university to embraced looping. Myers, a psychology professor at Hope College in Holland, MI, is probably the nation’s best-known advocate for hearing loops. He also, as it happens, got his PhD from the University of Iowa. He returned to his alma mater to speak at the 2012 Disability Celebration, where the hearing loop demonstration that Armour took part in was held.