In The Spotlight: Hearing Loss Association of America
Shonda Knight interviews Dr. Juleitte Sterkens, Hearing Loss Associates of America, and Melissa Corson, Audiology & Associates of North Florida about the hearing loop.
SHONDA KNIGHT: New technology is helping people suffering from hearing loss. Our guest today, Dr. Juliette Sterkens, an audiologist. Thank you for being here with us today.
DR. STERKENS: You're very welcome.
SHONDA KNIGHT: And Melissa Corson, thank you for being here as well, with the Audiology & Associates of North Florida. And you're here to talk about a very innovative product that is helping people suffering from hearing loss and it's called a hearing loop.
DR. STERKENS: It's called a hearing loop. A hearing loop is essentially a wire that surrounds an audience, but it can also be on a counter or point of sale area. That loop creates a magnetic field that a small sensor built in most hearing aids and cochlear implants today can pick up. So the user, the hearing aid user, essentially is directly tied into the PA system or to the microphone, and they hear the sounds without background noise, without reverberation, and totally overcomes the distance. So it helps people hear significantly better with hearing aids they already own.
SHONDA KNIGHT: Wow! Well, that sounds like a very significant progression when it comes to hearing loss. And I know that Audiology & Associates, you all are really bringing this to Tallahassee to help people in our area. Tell us how that's working, Melissa.
MELISSA CORSON: We started this initiative about a year ago. Actually, Julia is the spokesperson for the Hearing Loss Association of America in regard to their hearing loop initiative called Let's Get In The Loop. And we decided that we wanted to take a leadership role in that campaign here in Tallahassee about a year ago, and we've been laying the groundwork with educating our patients who come into our office for hearing assistance. We teach them how to use their hearing aid to access the hearing loop. We've been working with different companies in Tallahassee to become installers of hearing loops in different venues that are interested, whether it be churches or theaters, as Julia mentioned. And we have also been going out and speaking; our audiologists have spoken to different organizations who have expressed an interest in learning more. So having Juliette in town is really the culmination of this year of laying the groundwork. We're just so pleased that Juliette can be here and share her wealth of knowledge. She has been instrumental in having over 300 loops installed in the Wisconsin area where she is an audiologist. So we're very pleased to have her here, and we feel very fortunate to be able to benefit from her experience.
SHONDA KNIGHT: Absolutely. So what kind of a difference can this make for people who are already suffering with hearing loss?
DR. STERKENS: What most people with hearing loss complain about is that they can hear, but they can't understand. And particularly in places where there is background noise or distance, houses of worship, larger meeting rooms. Their hearing aids cannot pick up the sound because the sound is coming from too far away. What a hearing loop does is bring the sound directly into the hearing aid.
SHONDA KNIGHT: Okay. Well, we want to tell everyone that tomorrow morning, you will be at the Senior Center on North Monroe Street in Tallahassee at 8:30 am, so they can find out more information about it. How much does this cost? How can people get their hands on it?
DR. STERKENS: Well, if they would want this in their TV room, probably between $200-$300. It can be self-installed by a handy grandson or granddaughter. When you're talking about larger worship spaces, you could be talking several thousand dollars. But it would serve anybody in that facility who walks in with a hearing aid that has a telecoil built into the hearing aid. Or they can use small listening devices.
SHONDA KNIGHT: Alright. Well certainly worth the investment, sounds like. Thank you ladies so much for sharing that information with us today.
DR. STERKENS: Thank you for having us.
MELISSA CORSON: Thank you very much.