Hard of hearing holiday travelers using Albuquerque’s uniquely Southwestern Sunport may find their trip through the terminal just a little less intimidating – at least if they’re flying with Delta Airlines. The Sunport is taxiing to join twenty-two other American airports who feature one or more applications of hearing loop technology to provide enhanced communication access to hearing aid wearers.
The Sunport, in partnership with Delta Airlines, is testing two portable countertop hearing loops – one at a ticket counter and one at a boarding gate.
The countertop loops contain a microphone that is used by the Delta agent and transmits what the agent is saying as a silent, electromagnetic signal that is picked up by receivers called telecoils that are found in the majority of hearing aids and implanted hearing devices where it is turned back into sound. By turning off the microphones in their hearing aids and activating their telecoils, users can eliminate the majority of the background noise heard at the ticket counter or the gate and actually hear and understand the agent serving them.
The countertop loops feature this international hearing loop symbol making them easily identified by travelers familiar with the technology.
Many churches, performance spaces and other venues in Albuquerque feature a larger, room serving version of the technology as do similar venues throughout the US and abroad, so many hearing aid wearers will be alerted to the countertop loops when they see that blue ear. These loops will change the nightmare of the airport’s cacophony of unintelligible sound into a dream of flight for travelers with hearing loss.
This has been a banner year for the adoption of hearing loops at US airports. Those in Colorado Springs and Providence, RI were the latest additions to the list of “looped” airports. Though already on the list, New York’s La Guardia, the Sky Harbor in Phoenix, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas, and the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport have all made additions to existing hearing loops found in their terminals.
A list of known looped US airports and a small sampling of known airports abroad can be seen and downloaded at www.loopnm.com/News.html.
About Loop New Mexico
Loop New Mexico is a not-for-profit online clearinghouse for information on hearing loop technology. LNM maintains a website and periodically news releases and quarterly newsletter entitled In the Loop. Past editions of that newsletter can be accessed at http://www.sofnabq.com/ITLNewsletter.html.