Can You Hear Me?

Managing Director – MooreAccess

Image of Noreen Moore
It has come to my attention via visits to sites and general chats there is still a few problems with hearing loop installations and I thought it was time to provide a Sound Bite based on this topic.
This has resulted in a number of installed but non-functioning hearing loops being provided without proper testing, means that these items remain unchecked for a number of weeks.
Hearing loops are highly specialised items and work is a certain way with hearing aids that have the ‘T’ Switch setting in their aids. They should therefore be only installed by a properly trained operative for hearing loops.

I have put together a simple checklist for our Electrical engineers, Architects, Project Surveyors and Clerk of Works team members to look out for the following flaws and situations.
1) Not all contractors’ electrical installers registered, as PA (Public address systems) specialists are qualified to successfully install a Hearing loop. Therefore, in the interest of the client you are serving, you should use a hearing loop specialist to install your project hearing loop.

2) Some unscrupulous electrical companies are ‘cashing’ in on the technical ignorance of our client / Service Providers by waving the old DDA 1995 flag(Now The Equality Act 2010) thus pressurising them to purchase a loop. Often with no means of technically ‘checking’ the completed installation or indeed allowing the client to call in a willing hearing aid user.

3) Attaching the hearing loop microphones to the PC monitors. This is wrong since PC monitors emit Electro- magnetic waves and the hearing loop uses the same waves to transmit sound to the hearing aid ‘T’ switch. The two combined caused very unpleasant intrusive sounds for the listener – in some instances pain can be felt. It is still under discussion as to whether such ‘intrusion’ of sound can cause damage to the hearing aid or the listener’s hearing.

4) Positioning the hearing loop facility next to the PC computer – sometimes almost wrapping the loop wires around the computer unit. This causes the same problems as above but in a much more concentrated way!

5) Sharing the electrical cabling trunking box with the Hearing loop wiring. This is a common fault and not workable. This is because emit Electro- magnetic waves from the electrical wiring and the hearing loop wiring uses the same waves to transmit sound to the hearing aid ‘T’ switch.

6) Hanging the amplifier from the wires! We have found some amplifiers are actually hanging from the wires that are supposed to
connect to the microphones. The unit (amplifier) is wired up and heavy. The obvious happens whereby the amplifier falls to the floor and is kicked about underneath the workstation.

7) Affixing the microphone under the work surface. This is wrong since when we stand or sit at our workstations we will block the microphone. It also means that your staff member would have to bend down to speak into the microphone therefore the hearing impaired would not be able to lip read.

8) Sticking two wires together with sticky tape. Again, this is not an acceptable standard of electrical installations in the professional sense. It is dangerous and unreliable.

9) A recent event was a contractor not adhering to the designer’s preferred specialist hearing loop. Instead, the contractor supplied an inferior hearing loop then asked the hearing loop specialist to fit it! The loop is rendered unworkable even after several attempts to get the unit to work!

10) This practice should be strongly discouraged because the hearing loop will not be covered under repairs and parts warranty from the specialist installer because it is not their product.

11) More worryingly, not complying with all of the BS 7594: 2011 Codes of practice and other associated British Standards for protecting the customer / users requirements.

12) Finally, it is advisable to use a hearing loops specialist to carry out all new Hearing loop installations. Once the Reception desk is designed, share the drawing layout with the hearing loop specialist you have chosen so that they can advise and avoid cabling being too close to the electrical cables for computers and overhead lighting.
Any further questions, please ask me!

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Telephone: 02392263584

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Moore Access 

© Noreen C. Moore MCSD NRAC Access Auditor and Disability Adviser

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