Ringing That Bell, Part 2

Home hearing loop Hopes Dashed

In my last post  I told the sad, sad story of how we thought we had a compelling business case for the creation of a hearing loop distribution company.  We had a “ringer” (in more ways than one!) for a partner and we were going to import and distribute home loop systems to hearing care professionals. Since we had years of experience providing home loops in our own practice we were convinced that everyone would be a winner.  Patients would enjoy the increased functionality of their expensive devices, providers would have happier patients and fewer returns and we would have created a side business to help put the kids through college.  As the story went, we were an abject failure.  Was it the messengers, the messaging, the timing?  We still don’t know. What we do know is that the installation of the loop system was the most often reported barrier to providing loops to patients.

 

Our Secret Sauce

With 1600 installed home loops, how is it that we were able to accomplish what others couldn’t or wouldn’t?  I would now like to introduce Cliff.  Cliff has been a family friend and hearing aid user for many years.   Cliff retired from his career at the regional gas company, but he loves to work.  It didn’t take any arm-twisting at all to add Cliff to our team as our home loop installer. He knows hearing loss, hearing aids, hearing loops, and he’s handy.

But, lest you think loop installers are hard to find, let me introduce Will, Zack, Skip, Lee, Nathaniel, Dustin, Dan, Dean, Ray, Ross and Adam.  These fine gentlemen ranged in age from 16 to 70 when they functioned as our installers.  This group of individuals included charming and responsible teenagers, audiologists, young fathers looking to make a little extra money, hearing aid users, various handy patients, and employees.  All were trained and equipped to assess the suitability of the environment regarding EMI (electromagnetic interference, estimated to be present in less than 5% of homes).  All were trained in the simple technique of running a wire to create the “loop”.  All were trained in how to adjust the loop amplifier to maximize audibility.   All were trained in how to reinforce what we had demonstrated in our office…….except now, the patient was in the comfort of their own home!  “Sit where you normally sit and push this little button on your hearing aid”.  These loop installers get to experience the “wow” effect that we all love when we are sitting with a happy patient.  Each installer trained the next in the “apprentice” style.  Self installation of a home loop system may be out of the question for most of our patients, but a clean-cut, eager teenager or retired handy patient can do it usually in under one hour.

 

Large Loops

Large loops have gotten a great deal of press in the last few years.  Patricia Kricos chose to make it part of her agenda as president of AAA. HLAA, always big loop proponents, co-sponsored a simultaneous meeting devoted to looping during their 2011 conference.  The New York Times ran an article dealing with hearing loops  that was widely read.  Large loops are terrific at providing greater access for hearing aid users in theaters, churches, ticket counters etc.  Large loops are terrific at garnering PR for a local practice.  Large loops are just plain terrific and we have installed  over 35 in our county in churches, community rooms, classrooms and at bank counters, among other locations.  Installation of the larger systems does take a higher level of expertise than home loops, and for those projects we use a general contractor along with our own pro audio knowledge.

As terrific as large loops and the accessibility that they provide are, people with hearing loss are most often found in their homes.  Television is a big part of their lives and of our culture.  T-coil equipped hearing aids and a home loop provide  enhanced accessibility to televised content. Clear television signals are just as important to many hearing aid users as hearing well at church or in the theater; it’s all important!

 

Still Looping

In our practice we are approaching 1900 installed home loops.  We just never could really accept the fact that installation was the only reason our colleagues wouldn’t loop their patient’s homes.  There had to be other reasons, but that’s the ONE that we heard over and over.  On the other hand , maybe there is only ONE Cliff…..and only ONE Will, Zack, Skip, Lee, Nathaniel, Dustin, Dan, Dean, Ray, Ross and Adam….just sayin’ :).



8 Comments

  1. Lynn-The installation is not difficult for someone with a few skills and the right tools. I personally don’t know how to do it but I’m impressed with your self assessed credentials! How about this: go to our website http://www.goodhearing.com and fill out the ‘contact us’ form…..let us know how we can get in touch with you and we’ll provide as much remote support as we can.

  2. Thanks so much for the “shout out” David! Wait till I tell my kids I’m ahead of my time :)

    It’s exciting to see that greater access for those with hearing loss is still gaining momentum.

    We are steadily looping the homes of patients and are embarking on a large movie theater project here in Sonoma County.

    All the Best
    Christine

  3. Thanks for the comment, Claudia. Many of our people say that the loop is their “favorite part” of their hearing aid :)

    All the best,
    Chris

  4. Please tell me where I can get the training to become a home loop installer. It has to be within driving distance of NE Ohio. I discovered the huge benefit of hearing loops in an effort to help my mother, who was withdrawing from many activities due to poor hearing. It was almost miraculous! I am her 58-yr-old daughter, still working at two part-time jobs, but wanting very much to promote and install hearing loops. I am behind an effort to have one installed in our library meeting room during our renovation project that is due to begin next month. Finally, I am a “handywoman.” I can build, repair, crawl around under furniture, and most of all – learn new techniques. I just don’t know where to start.

  5. I’ve used a self-installed home TV room loop for 10 years, and it has worked flawlessly and wonderfully!

    Christine, you and your hubby may have been disappointed in your efforts to export your amazing example and success to a wider audience. But you were ahead of your time . . . and have nonetheless been an example to the nation.

    Happily, interest is now exploding. Just in the last month two major audio suppliers have announced that they will be bringing hearing loops to their nationwide A-V dealer networks (in response to popular demand). NYC has awarded its contract for future taxis to Nissan, which will have a hearing loop in every taxi. The Washington Post did a huge article. And tomorrow’s NY Times (https://hearinghealthmatters.org/hearinprivatepractice/2012/ringing-that-bell-part-2/) has the second follow-up to its front page hearing loop story of last October. And this is just the last three weeks or so. Christine, your vision, at last, is being realized. We are crossing the tipping point. Kudos to you!

  6. I have had a loop in my family room for several years. It was installed by amateurs & works fine. I used just the tcoil in my CI for some time to help me get used to it. Most of the time now, I use my hearing aid as well as two ears are always better than one. It’s wonderful to hear from someone who is doing such a great job of helping others to get their TVs in the loop. Keep spreading the word!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.