Becoming a looping champion - Part 1
I’m raising my hand as someone who is guilty of ignoring the critical importance of telecoils and looping. Did you know less than 50% of people with hearing loss report ever being told about the use of telecoils from their hearing professional? I want to join the voices actively promoting this very critical piece of the better hearing experience, and would strongly encourage all of you to do the same.
I welcome audiologist and looping expert Juliette Sterkens as our guest Unitron blogger for a 2-part series on the importance of looping and what it can do for your patients and practice. As I’ve gotten to know Juliette and the passion to which she speaks about this topic, I’m 100% convinced it is part of our duty to promote and provide this valuable service to our patients.
Help your clients hear—everywhere—through the use of hearing loops
“I used to clap when others clapped. I used to laugh when others laughed though I usually didn't hear what it was about. Now I hear every word in my church. I absolutely love the hearing loop.”
“In the Loop I could hear the minister better than my spouse.”
Back in 2008, I heard David Myers speak on his hearing loop experience at Ione Abbey in Scotland at a meeting for members of the Hearing Loss Association of Wisconsin. He talked about how successful he had been in bringing hearing loop technology to Western Michigan. That afternoon I decided I too wanted to make the Fox Valley Communities accessible for persons with hearing loss just like David Myers had done in his state.
My husband Max offered to retire early from an engineering career and help introduce hearing loops to the community as there were no trained hearing loop installers in the state of Wisconsin. I called churches, city council members, museum and seniors centers directors, and even spoke with an architect from the Oshkosh Convention Center that was being remodeled at that time. I educated my patients on the T-coil, what it was and why it was important. The best thing we did was installing a large flat screen TV and hearing loop in our office waiting room. Demonstrations were invaluable. How do you explain to a person that they are missing something, when they don't know what they are missing? I even had a church council meeting in my waiting room so those with hearing aids could experience a loop.
During the first few weeks of looping advocacy the local Community Foundation funded the technology for the Oshkosh Convention Center, a church under construction agreed to put the loop wire in so that an installation would be easier later on, the Seniors Center wanted a loop for a large meeting room and a long-time patient offered to fund an installation in her church in memory of her husband. (We both shed a few tears when she brought up the subject.) Local service organizations helped fund loops after a “Let’s Get Our Community in the Loop” presentation.
Each hearing loop installation involves not only the actual placement of the loop but community outreach. In houses of worship, for example, your practice name may be listed in the church bulletin insert, the news release and you might get to address the whole parish community from the pulpit during the hearing loop dedication weekend. Your speaking services will be in demand as you address library groups, service organizations or aging care professionals about hearing loss and ways to make the community more hearing friendly.
Hearing loops changed how I practiced. Audiologists like Bill Diles in Santa Rosa CA, Mary Caccavo and Susan Lopez in Lafayette IN or Marcy Stowell in Greenville, SC will tell you that adding hearing loops to your community will change your life as an audiologist. That looping opened doors in the community that never would have opened. Looping services tells your community you are a cut above other practices. That you care about your patients’ ability to hear. Everywhere. The goodwill and gratitude that looping will bring your practice? Priceless. The best way to stand out from your competition is to become a looping champion in your community.
This blog post was contributed by Juliette Sterkens, Au.D. retired after 26 years in her Oshkosh, WI private audiology practice. She is currently on her encore career as the Hearing Loss Association of America National Hearing Loop Advocate. She has received numerous awards for her hearing loop advocacy work including the Wisconsin Audiologist of the Year, Arizona School of Health Sciences 2013 Humanitarian of the Year, the American Academy of Audiology Presidential Award and the UW-Oshkosh Distinguished Alumni Award. Her work has led to over 500 hearing loop installations in Wisconsin and many more around the U.S.