Room for the hearing impaired now open at Johnson City Community Health Center

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JOHNSON CITY (September 3, 2014) – Work conferences. Dinner parties. Lecture halls. While most people find themselves in these group settings on a fairly regular basis, such locations can be a source of much anxiety for those who are hard of hearing.

“We hear through both ears and our normal system has a way to suppress the background noise and place significance to the speech you are listening to,” said Dr. Saravanan Elangovan, an associate professor in audiology and speech language pathology in East Tennessee State University’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. “You lose the ability to do that when you have a hearing impairment. It becomes very difficult to separate out what you are wanting to hear from the rest of the noise in the room.”

Through the installation of an induction loop system, Elangovan and other leaders at the Johnson City Community Health Center have created a better listening environment in one of the facility’s conference rooms for those with a hearing impairment.

“Most people with hearing aids or cochlear implants have a way to switch over to what is called a T-coil. The technology was actually set up to enable them to do better with a telephone. It is devoid of any background noise or static,” Elangovan said. “The induction loop system uses the same technology.”

With this kind of system, a sound source – a speaker’s voice, a cinema sound system or other audio system – is captured using a microphone. From that sound signal, the induction loop generates a current to pass the signal to a metal wire that encircles the room, which in turn produces a magnetic field. That magnetic field, Elangovan explained, is picked up by the T-coil located inside a person’s hearing aid and delivers the sound directly into the person’s ear canal without the background noise.

The looped area, or part of the room encircled by the wire, allows enough space for multiple people to sit in a group setting for meetings. In addition to a microphone in the front of the conference room for a speaker, four other microphones are placed on the ceiling throughout the room to help when someone from within the group is talking.

“We installed the system in April. We have been using it to demonstrate this feature on hearing aids and cochlear implants for our audiology clinic patients, but we’d also like to invite community groups that might have a need for it,” Elangovan said. “Hearing aids and cochlear implants have come a long way, but they still haven’t matched the natural ability of the ear. That’s why we want to spread the word that this feature is available here. We think it is an excellent resource.”

For more information about the induction loop system or to schedule a time to utilize the room, call the JCCHC at 423-929-6902. The JCCHC is an interdisciplinary, nurse-managed community health center located at 2151 Century Lane.

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