First United Methodist Church’s hearing loop technology received an upgrade last month.
“The previous loop just went around the outer edge of the church,” said Rev. Dee Ann Woods, the church’s pastor.
The installation of that loop took place about seven years ago and was among the first in Waupaca.
The system had a weak signal in the center of church, Woods said.
A member of the congregation brought the issue to the attention of the pastor.
The member’s father is in his 90s and had difficulty hearing from where he sits in the church, in spite of the hearing loop the church already had.
“Professionals came in and tweaked it,” Woods said.
David Scroggins, of DRS Sound, Inc. in Kiel, Wisconsin, and Jean Lulloff, of Loop Solutions, worked together and donated their time and equipment for the church’s upgrade to bring it up to the international standard, she said.
“The company also donated an amplifier specifically designed to work with the loop system,” Woods said.
The upgrade took place about a week before Christmas, and in addition, they installed a hearing loop that day at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Community.
Area libraries, Riverside Medical Center’s waiting room, several other churches and Waupaca High School’s Performing Arts Center also have hearing loops.
“Those with hearing challenges who have a hearing aid with the T-Coil push a little button, and whatever is going through the sound system comes directly into their ear,” Woods said.
The T-coil, or telecoil, is a small coil built in most hearing aids.
When that setting is selected, the signal from the microphone or public address system is received wirelessly in the T-coil by magnetic induction.
The person’s hearing aid picks up the sounds spoken into the public address system’s microphone rather than the hearing aid’s internal microphone.
The technology reduces background noise, which means the listener is better able to understand what is being said.
A loop system includes a microphone to pick up the spoken word, an amplifier to process the signal and a wire placed around a room’s perimeter to act as an antenna to radiate the magnetic signal to the hearing aid.
People who have hearing loss but do not have a hearing aid may pick up an external hearing device in the church’s reception area.
That device is worn around the person’s neck and includes an ear bud. A button on the device turns on the system, Woods said.
She said what is important for all congregations is that everyone who speaks uses the church’s microphone.
At First United Methodist Church, an image serves as a reminder for people with hearing aids to turn on the T-coil button on their hearing aid. They see that image as they walk into the church and are greeted.
Woods is already receiving feedback about the upgrade.
“We used it for the children’s program and Christmas Eve as well,” she said.
Somone who attended the children’s program commented on the quality of the sound, Woods said.
She said the smile on the face of the 90-something member of the church, who had problems hearing the service before, showed how he felt.
Woods also said that some Baby Boomers who have hearing loss do not want that fact to be known.
The hearing loop system is a discreet one.
“You just push a button. It just helps all around for anybody who needs the boost and to know if they don’t have a hearing aid, they can wear an external hearing device and be able to hear so much more closely,” she said.