Hearing loops needed in public

To the editor:

Recently, we attended a meeting at the Oberlin Public Library demonstrating the benefits of hearing loops in public meeting rooms, theaters, auditoriums, and other large areas. Hearing loops work in conjunction with traditional public address systems so that hearing aid wearers can clearly understand what’s being said.

Some may question the need for a system to supplement a public address system to help hearing aid wearers. Isn’t that what the public address system is for? Unfortunately, no. In much the same way overhead lighting is employed to help people with normal vision to see clearly, a public address system is meant for people with normal hearing to hear more clearly in large areas. Overhead lighting is not usually adequate to permit a person with a serious visual problem to see clearly. Public address systems are not usually enough to help a hearing aid wearer hear clearly. Consequently, the person wearing hearing aids is denied complete access to the speaker’s message.

Oberlin has been proactive in providing access for people with various physical and sensory limitations. Our crosswalks in the downtown area are now ramped and the pedestrian crossing signals also emit audible tones. In this way, those in wheelchairs or with limited vision have an easier time negotiating the intersections. Unfortunately, no such accommodations have been made for people with hearing problems in large gathering areas.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, great strides have been made to help those with physical and vision limitations. We hope this letter serves to open a dialogue in the community regarding hearing loops and other means to assist those with hearing problems in Oberlin. This letter is in response to requests from our patients for help with their hearing in many public places in town. We would be happy to answer any questions regarding hearing loops. Please feel free to reach out to us by calling 440-774-5819.

Rick Hetsko, Au.D.

Josh Bowyer, Au.D.