Increasing accessibility to public places for people with hearing loss

How one audiologist is making a difference in her community

April 20, 2009

In a previous article we showed that recommendations for hearing aids can reach 80-90% if we can help people with hearing loss reclaim at least 70-80% of those precious listening situations they have lost contact with.

According to MarkeTrak close to nine out of ten people with hearing loss, want to hear better in a place of worship. For many people this is the single most important listening environment outside of their homes; yet for hearing aid wearers this is one of the most difficult listening situations due to reverberation and difficulty in hearing speech or music through place of worship PA systems.

Inspired by Dr. David Myers of Holland, Michigan (Hope College), Dr. Juliette Sterkens began a place of worship outreach program in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin. She has been kind enough to share her efforts with her peers due to her compassion for people with hearing loss. We have created a new section titled Place of Worship Outreach at the hearing health professional section (under Place of Worship Outreach). Dr. Sterkens shares two documents:

  1. Place of Worship Outreach Brochure which she uses to educate religious leaders in her community on inductive looping; certainly it can serve as a model for other public places.

  2. Her "story" on place of worship activism detailing steps she took to start a looping initiative in her local community; yes it helps that her husband, an engineer is her partner!

A number of places of worship may not be able to afford inductive looping technology which utilizes the telecoil in the hearing aid. Many people want to help society so perhaps in your community you may want to start an "Adopt a church, synagogue, or temple" program, where members of the place of worship finance the project and get recognition for it. I think this letter from one grateful person who was the recipient of Dr. Sterkens' efforts is convincing enough that "hearing loops will do for hearing aids what Wi-Fi has done for laptops".

    I am a member of Algoma Blvd. Church in Oshkosh. What I experienced last Sunday was nothing short of a miracle. For the very first time in many, many years I was able to hear every single word said in church along with every note of music thanks to a hearing loop. I cannot express my thankfulness in words. It was truly one of my most memorable moments in my life and I felt "normal." Thank you.
    C. P. - Oshkosh