In my last entry, I examined the mythical elephant PCAST created in its examination of the hearing healthcare system. The creature seemed to be purely product – no professional services needed – and closely resembled the vision of the Consumer Electronics Association and PSAP manufacturers.
In many ways, the PCAST report is the epitome of the commoditization of hearing healthcare.
The word audiologist was barely used in the report while the more generic “dispenser” and “hearing health care provider” were used more often. Without any evidence whatsoever, the PCAST vision delegated those with mild to moderate hearing loss – the largest category of hearing impaired individuals – into a category where self-diagnosis, self-fitting and self-adjusting are all that is needed.
People with hearing loss can dream of a future when hearing aids might also serve as wireless loudspeakers, delivering clear, customized sound from inside their ears. They can dream of communities where worship places, auditoriums, business windows, and home TV rooms all broadcast their sound through these in-the-ear loudspeakers. Thanks to the refinement of "induction loop" systems--which magnetically transmit sound to hearing aids and cochlear implants with telecoils (T-coils)--that future can be now!
WASHINGTON, DC—Following ancient custom, the United States Supreme Court will begin its next term on the first Monday in October. However, when the nine justices hear their first case on October 6, there will be something new in the courtroom that will assist hearing aid wearers present in following the proceedings: a hearing loop system, installed this summer.
The new induction listening system, which is in addition to the High Court’s existing FM and infra-red listening devices, transmits sound through an electromagnetic signal that can be picked up by the telecoil of a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
Who will take advantage of the hearing loop? According to Kathy Arberg, the Supreme Court’s public information officer, the new system is intended for use by court visitors. But, she added, it will also be available to attorneys appearing before the court.
Will any of the justices be availing themselves of the hearing loop. Arberg did not say, a reticence in keeping with the tradition of the justices to keep their personal lives private. However, given that the average age of the nine current justices is 68.4 years and that four are over 75, it’s a good bet that some of them are—or, at least, should be—wearing hearing aids. So, they too will take advantage of the new system.
IT TOOK PERSUASION
The looping installation at the Supreme Court didn’t just happen; it was the product of active advocacy. Last December, Richard Williams, a retired attorney who serves on the board of theSarasota, Florida, chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), contacted the management of the Supreme Court, urging that a hearing loop be installed.