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Queens Chronicle

Easy listening at St. Helen Church

New system to aid hearing-impaired

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:46 am, Thu Mar 7, 2013.

St. Helen Roman Catholic Church in Howard Beach has installed a new system to help hearing-impaired parishioners.

The induction loop — also called a hearing loop — was installed by Acoustic Loop Innovations, a subsidiary of the Howard Beach-based Harmony Hearing & Speech Center, in the church’s nave in December. It helps people with hearing aids equipped with telecoils hear Mass more clearly.

The hearing loop consists of a copper wire that is connected to an amplifier. The wire was installed around the perimeter of the nave and is connected to the church’s sound system and microphone at the pulpit.

The system works by creating a magnetic field strong enough to send an audio signal to the t-coil — a loop of wire within most hearing aids and some cochlear implants. Hearing devices with the t-coils in a correct position will allow sound coming from the copper wires to be heard clearly and discretely, with all background noise eliminated. They essentially become tiny, wireless loudspeakers.

The induction loop at St. Helen will allow hearing aids to pick up hymns and sermons while filtering out background noise, such as coughs, sneezes, and other sounds originating from the pews.

Dr. Carol Letzter and Dr. Roseann Spatz from Harmony Hearing & Speech Center said in a statement that they were looking to bring hearing loops to other houses of worship, and that St. Helen is the first in Queens to install one.

“Our hope is to have hearing loops in every house of worship one loop at a time so that every individual with hearing loss has the same opportunity to enjoy participating in the service just like individuals who do not have problems hearing,” they said.

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