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Deaf and hard of hearing: Augmented hearing systems for venues

Making a venue accessible for a student who is hard of hearing often involves the installation of an augmentative hearing system. The Building Code of Australia requires that all venues with built-in amplified systems also need to have an effective hearing augmentation system.

Whilst T loop systems have been a popular choice in the past, in more recent years Infrared, FM & Bluetooth systems have become common.  These newer technologies allow information presented by the person with the microphone or the outputted devices such as DVD players or MP3 Players to be transmitted to a receiver device that the student usually wears.

Infrared, FM & Bluetooth Systems

These systems have a transmitter device in one or more areas of the room that send audio information (Infrared transmitters send light signals, FM and Bluetooth send radio waves) to a receiver. Institutions that use these systems need to provide students with a receiver device. Receivers are usually pocket sized and either have earphones or headsets or can be paired with compatible hearing aids. Systems may differ in terms of what hearing aids they are compatible with.  

This video describes how one Infrared technology works.  

T LOOP Systems

Whilst FM and Infrared systems are becoming widely used, T loops systems are still used in many venues.

T loops systems assist students who have hearing aids with a T-switch. The-switch will allow them to access audio transmitted by the T loop system. The loop itself is often place at the front of a lecture venue (under the carpet) so it is only when the student with a T-switch hearing aid is sitting at the front of the class that they will benefit from this technology. 

This video by OTOjOY explains hearing loops

 

Sound Field Amplification

This technology differs from the augmented hearing systems mentioned above in that they are usually for smaller venues that may or may not already have an inbuilt amplification system.  Sound field systems can be thought of as mini PA systems that are portable, easily installed and designed to evenly distribute the teachers voice within a small venue so that all can hear. The teacher can use a range of microphones, wireless or not, either handheld or supported by a lapel or lanyard. More than one microphone can be used at a time so allowing for a roaming microphone for students or other participants to share.

Additional audio sources, such as MP3 players or DVD players can be plugged into the sound field system to be broadcast around the classroom. As these systems are small in size their effectiveness is limited to smaller venues or situations where listeners are close to the speakers.

This video provides a demonstration how the Redcat sound field system works

 

ChatterVox

The ChatterVox range of amplifiers were designed for superior voice reproduction.

The ChatterVox Model 100 is a wearable voice amplifier designed for people with vocal strain or low levels of vocal output. It is not as 'tinny' as other voice amplifiers and is the preferred choice for anyone with a vocal impairment or for those wanting to prevent further vocal strain.

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