It is estimated that around 7M people in the UK would benefit from the use of hearing aids. Of these just over a quarter already have a device that has been fitted, ensuring that the technology involved gives them the best chance of participating in conversations or hearing performances such as concerts and films. There are of course much more basic reasons why hearing aids can improve our lives. Being able to hear a fire alarm, or perhaps hearing our name when we are called for an appointment. The NHS annually loses £2ooM due to GP Appointments that are missed because the patient was sitting in the waiting room and did not hear their names called.
There are all sorts of barriers to be removed to enable the remaining 5M people to gain access to this technology that could potentially change lives including the provision of adequate NHS services. However all is not plain sailing for the 2M people who do have hearing aids. Many are currently being poorly served when they enter a building which bears a sign indicating a hearing loop has been installed. Far too often these devices are not operational, have been poorly fitted or occasionally have not been fitted at all and someone has simply put up a sign in an attempt to give the impression of meeting the requirements of their visitors. It is not easy for people who do not have access to a hearing aid or specific equipment to test if a loop is working, there are no visual indications. However all of us can ask the question regarding when was the loop last tested and usually that creates a certain degree of panic in the building management as very few institutions do test their system regularly and check to see if it does meet the standards of such items, yet regularly testing is an important process. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has a standard – IEC 60118-4 which outlines how a hearing loop should perform and a reputable and qualified company can carry out a test which will verify if the standard is met. There is a link here to a website that provides the various legislative frameworks and explanations.
In some respects the bigger challenge is when buildings are being refurbished or built. The Architects or surveyors will be aware of the legislation and wish to meet its demands. However far too often the people contracted to install such technology are either not qualified or are contacted far too late to ensure that the technology is used in the most appropriate manner. Anyone involved in such a scheme should get ahead of the curve and contact a qualified company long before all of the plans are finalised to ensure that they provide the best possible environment for the people who will ultimately use the building. A list of qualified engineers can be found at the bottom of this website link.