Information on Hearing Loops added to Google Maps
Recently, Google Maps has started to add information on hearing loop accessibility on its website. Having a nationwide database of looped venues has been sought after for hearing loop supporters. Get in the Hearing Loop Committee (GITHL) of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and Google Maps, is the newest precedent that raises awareness and accessibility of hearing loops in public spaces.
Hearing loops are comprised of a thin copper wire unobtrusively installed to surround the room/area and connect via an amplifier to the room’s public address (PA) system.
The amplifier transmits the sound from the PA system to the loop wire. The loop wire will then transmit a silent electromagnetic signal to the hearing aid receivers (telecoils or t-coils). These telecoils are built into most digital hearing aids.
The hearing aids convert the signal back into sound and, while the microphones in the hearing aids are switched off, the user hears most of the sound from the PA with limited background noise. This makes it easier to hear what is being broadcasted over the PA system. Even though proper volume levels are necessary, it’s essential to understand that clarity in speech is much more important than volume.
Hearing Loops in Public Spaces
The U.S. has incorporated hearing loops in theaters, places of worship, and other public places where people with hearing loss are bound to face challenges.
Thousands of venues that provide access to hearing loops have been listed through the leadership of the GITHL committee and Google Maps. This process is still in the works. To find out whether a specific venue offers hearing loop communication access:
1. Go to maps.google.com.
2. Search for the name of a venue. The map will reload and display the venue on a street map.
3. A box will include information like the street address, phone number, hours of operation, etc.
There will be a space underneath a row of blue circular icons that has a short description of the venue and a “more arrow” like this >.
Press on the > arrow and “Assistive hearing loop” should show up if it is known to be available at the venue. Other accessibility information will be posted in this area, like wheelchair access or other accommodations. When viewing this on your smartphone or tablet, you can find the information on Google Maps by selecting “About”.
This project will continue growing and the GITHL committee will work to find and verify hearing loop installations throughout the country. The public can participate in the listings in order to help uphold their integrity.
Each venue listed through Google Maps has a “suggest an edit” or “update this place” prompt. There are additional links to add photos or leave a review. If it is mentioned that a loop system is missing at a venue that has stated their venue is looped, users may inform the GITHL committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who install loops or others who set up hearing loss can suggest additions or revisions of listings on Google Maps by visiting this HLAA site and filling out the form.
If you are a hearing aid user who has trouble hearing in public venues, get your hearing aids checked by a provider from Pure Sound Hearing.
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