By amplifying and clarifying sound, these systems make it easier to hear in noisy environments.
The NZ Building Act 1991 requires that new or extensively renovated public buildings be accessible for people with hearing loss by having an assistive listening system installed.
The Act applies to:
• public buildings with space for at least 250 people
• all theatres, cinemas, public halls
• assembly spaces in old peoples’ homes occupied by more than 20 people.
There are three types: audio loop, infrared and FM.
Audio loop listening system
This is the most common listening system, often found in churches, cinemas, theatres and other public places.
The loop system uses electromagnetic energy to transmit sound. It has four parts:
• A sound source, such as a public address system or microphone
• An amplifier
• A loop of wire that encircles a room or runs under carpeting
• A receiver (called a telecoil or t-coil) worn in your ears or as a headset.
The receiver picks up the sound from the loop. The hearing aid wearer switches their hearing aid to ‘T’. This allows them to hear the sound much more clearly and without background noise.
Infrared and FM listening systems
These are commonly used in classrooms, courts and multi-screen theatres.
These systems require you to wear a special receiver, either as headphones or connected to your hearing aids. To obtain a receiver, contact the customer service staff at the venue. At educational centres, contact the disability co-ordinator.