College Improves Experiences for Hearing-Impaired Audiences

SUNY Oswego is enhancing the experience of hearing-impaired spec­tators at ceremonies, performances and athletic events by installing audio-induction loops on the concourse level of Marano Campus Center arena and convocation hall, in the newly updated Sheldon Hall ballroom, in the soon-to-reopen Waterman Theatre and even­tually in other venues on campus.

Also known as a hearing loop, the system allows audience members with many digital styles of hearing aids, or with relatively new cochlear implants, to connect to the loudspeaker system. The system pinpoints the sound’s source and minimizes the effect of reverberations and ambient noise.

Starr Abbott Wheeler ’98 M’03, director of the college’s Office of Disability Services, said she is excited that SUNY Oswego is moving ahead with hearing loops to make the campus more accessible to those with hearing devices.

Hearing loops work magnetically through a receiver called a telecoil in an implant or hearing aid. The transmission will not interfere with older assistive listening devices, such as FM systems.

With proper signs to promote availability of a hearing loop, a spectator at commencement, an ice hockey game or a concert can activate a hearing aid’s or implant’s telecoil and connect, without bulky equipment or asking for help, according to Patrick Devendorf  ’90 M’10, assistant director of disability services and a member of the college’s Public Ceremonies Committee.

Of the 452 models of hearing aids listed from all major manufacturers in the 2014 edition of Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids, 323 (71.5 percent) have telecoils, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Facilities Services retained Hearing Loops Unlimited of Rochester to install the systems.

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