Loop system now available at Whole Foods in Sarasota

David Kirkwood
June 1, 2011

SARASOTA, FL– Sarasota and surrounding Manatee County are quickly becoming a hot bed of hearing loop systems, which improve accessibility for people with hearing loss. The latest facility in the area to install a loop system is Saratoga’s Whole Foods Market. Shoppers who wear hearing aids equipped with telecoils are invited to check out at cash register No. 1. The loop there sends the cashier’s spoken words  directly into customers’ hearing aids.

In March, the North Sarasota Public Library acquired a loop system. That was followed by installations at the Church of the Annunciation in Holmes Beach and in two Sarasota restaurants: Caragiulos and Owen’s Fish Camp. The restaurants, which have portable tabletop systems for hearing aid wearing diners, are believed to be the first in the country with such equipment. The local Whole Foods is the first store in the South to provide a loop system.

The Sarasota area, with its large population of retirees, has some 110,000 hard-of-hearing people. That represents about 16% of the overall population, which, according to U.S. Census data, puts it in a tie for the highest incidence of hearing loss in the country.

About two-thirds of newly manufactured hearing aids have t-coils, which were originally designed to amplify phone conversations.

Eileen Hampshire, chair of the Downtown Sarasota Alliance, sees hearing loops as a smart investment for business owners. She said, “The loop offers an affordable opportunity to reach a big part of the market you are probably missing. The system is highly effective, low cost, and virtually maintenance free, so the payback is extremely attractive.”


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