Summer Blog Series: Edmonton Folk Festival Teleloop System
Summer is Finally Here!
To celebrate the long, hot, sun-filled days of summer, our next blog series will focus on issues in hearing and accessibility at events in Edmonton during the summer months. Edmonton is well-known for its festivals and concerts in the beautiful summer season, but what is less well-known is how some of these festivals have hearing solutions for people who are hard-of-hearing—with hearing instruments and without.
The Edmonton Folk Festival line-up was just announced on June 3rd and it looks fantastic! Since we are so excited about the artists who will be performing this year, we thought we’d begin our series by talking about the solution that Folk Fest has implemented for the hearing impaired: the teleloop (also known as the magnetic induction loop) system, which makes use of telecoil technology. Read through to the end of the article to learn about our summer give-away as well!
Telecoil Technology – How It Works
A telecoil is simply a metal rod with a “coil” of wire wrapped around it. This coil picks up magnetic signals, which are then converted into acoustic signals loud enough for the person to hear. Telecoil technology was originally developed to help hearing instrument wearers pick up the natural electro-magnetic signal that is generated by older rotary-dial telephones, which have speakers that are driven by powerful magnets. In the past, when hearing instruments were much more prone to feedback, or whistling, when something like a telephone was pressed up against them, a telecoil was an effective solution to help people hear on the phone with their hearing instruments. The microphone on the hearing instrument was deactivated, eliminating feedback, and the telecoil picked up the signal from the telephone.
Today, better technology has been developed to help hearing instrument wearers hear on the telephone, but that does not mean that telecoil technology is no longer useful. In situations where there is a lot of background noise, or a speaker is transmitting a sound over a large area, the teleloop system is a solution that sends the signal directly to the person wearing the telecoil, overcoming any background noise. In addition, the volume of the signal being received can be increased or decreased to the suit the wearer of the telecoil specifically.
Teleloop Systems – What to Expect at the Folk Fest
Sound can be sent and received in many different ways. Classically, when we think about sound transmission at a concert, an acoustic sound is made (for example, singing or talking) and is captured by a microphone. At that point, the sound is sent electronically to a speaker, which amplifies the sound and converts it back to an acoustic sound wave. The sound is then transmitted to the audience at a level that is loud enough for everyone to hear. However, once the sound is captured in an electronic format, it can be transmitted in a number of different ways. The teleloop system, which is what the Folk Fest has installed, captures the sound from the microphone, and transmits the sound to a loop that emits a low electro-magnetic current. This current is received by a telecoil. When the sound has been received by the telecoil, it is then converted back to a sound wave through a speaker and is heard by the wearer of the telecoil.
This loop system can be set up in many different ways. At the Folk Fest, there is a loop that is buried underground at each stage. As a result, if you are wearing a tele-coil and you are standing within the space that the loop encloses, you should be able to pick up the electro-magnetic signal. These areas are marked by signs that look like this:
The telecoil may also be worn in many different ways. If you are not a hearing aid wearer, you may borrow a tel-coil receiver from the Information Tent by leaving a driver’s license or something else of value. This receiver will have a telecoil in it that will pick up the electromagnetic signal. The receiver will convert it back to an acoustic signal which will then be played through headphones. The volume of the signal may be adjusted accordingly.
Wear Hearing Aids? You May Already Have a Telecoil!
If you are a hearing aid wearer, you may potentially have a telecoil already. Older hearing aids have a switch that puts the hearing aid into telecoil mode. Hearing aids that are ten years old or newer typically access a telecoil through a program change. This program must be set up by your audiologist. Lastly, if you have a device that allows you to wirelessly connect your cellphone, television, Ipod, etc., you may have access to a telecoil though that device. If you are unsure about whether you have access to a telecoil or not, and would like to make use of this technology, schedule an appointment with your clinician to find out if you are able to access a telecoil in some way. There are pros and cons to this system and your clinician will be able to review everything with you.
We have purchased a pair of Seniors (age 65+) tickets for Saturday, August 8th for the Folk Fest and we are giving them away! Please like our Facebook page, or write a review on Google, Yelp or the Yellowpages and you will be entered to win the tickets, as well as chance to try the tele-system at Folk Fest this summer! We will call our winner on August 1st—good luck!
Stay tuned to our blog to learn more about hearing accessibility in Edmonton this summer!