deans-letter-audiology-hearing-aidsThe lights dim, the curtain rises, the music begins to play — it is the sights and sounds that make going to the theater an unforgettable experience. Imagine if you had difficulty hearing the music or the actors and how that would impact your experience. The Pacific Hearing and Balance Center has collaborated with the Stockton Civic Theatre to make the theater experience more enjoyable for community members that use hearing aids by refurbishing the theatre’s telecoil sound system.

“We have many patients who attend plays or musicals at the Stockton Civic Theatre and they could not hear well due to the acoustic of the space,” said Gail Amornpongchai, AuD, FAAA, C-AAA, clinical director of audiology. “We called Stockton Civic Theatre and found out they had the loop, but it had been turned off for many years as the system had interfered with the sound of one of the shows. When they tried to turn it back on, they discovered the company who had installed the loop had gone out of the business. We found another company who came to install the new amplifier and made sure everything worked well.”

“A hearing loop, or telecoil loop, is a sound system that magnetically transmits the signal to hearing aids,” explains Dr. Amornpongchai. “The hearing loop brings sound directly from the sound system of the theatre to the patient’s hearing aids, similar to a Bluetooth headset. This allows the wearer to have direct access to sounds in the presence of room reverberation and background noise, which can improve their understanding of speech.”

Sound reverberates in rooms with high ceilings, which makes auditoriums challenging environments for those who use hearing aids. “A hearing loop consists of a loop of cable which is placed around a designated area, usually a room, auditorium, theatre or church. The cable generates a magnetic field throughout the looped space which can be picked up by a hearing aid that is compatible with telecoil. Patients who have hearing aids should consult with their audiologists to see if their hearing aids have telecoil and if the telecoil is activated.”

Dr. Amornpongchai believes that it is important for everyone to understand the challenges that individuals with hearing impairments face so that as a community we can help create inclusive environments. She elaborates, “The main factors that affect hearing are distance between the speaker and the listener, background noise and reverberation. Some people think that hearing aids will solve everything and that is not true. Therefore, the community needs to provide accommodations for those who have hearing impairments. This includes modifying the acoustics in restaurants or churches by installing carpet or installing sound-absorbing materials on the walls or ceiling. Also, we can educate servers to seat people close to the wall, or in less noisy areas, when requested or sponsor a telecoil loop in public places.”

Doctor of audiology student Cheryl A. Linton ’19, MS had the opportunity to assist Dr. Amornpongchai with the process of refurbishing the hearing loop at Stockton Civic Theatre. Linton shares, “Audiology is a hands-on profession; I can learn all about hearing aids and telecoils in a book or through a lecture, but handling and operating devices gives me a much more thorough and personal understanding of what my patients have to live with on a daily basis.”

Linton explains the importance of experiential learning for students training to become audiologists. “In order for us to serve our patients well, we have to become capable, confident and competent practitioners in our field,” Linton said. “Pacific’s faculty and facilities in Stockton and San Francisco are second to none. Within the first few weeks we began interacting with patients, while being precepted by experienced faculty and clinical audiologists. Our rigorous two-year classwork in science, technology, speech and language development, business practices and other topics continues as we begin our internships. The internships are in hospitals, private practice clinics and medical offices throughout the Bay Area. They provide us with a breadth of experience with patients of all ages and in all situations. The education and ‘real world’ training I’m getting through Pacific will give me the knowledge and the skills I need to have in order to serve my future patients well.”

To learn more about Pacific’s AuD program go to pacific.edu/aud

To learn more about Pacific’s audiology clinics go to upacifichearing.com

Hearing and Balance Center, Stockton Campus
757 Brookside Rd
Stockton, CA 95211
209.946.7378

Hearing and Balance Center, San Francisco Campus
155 Fifth St
San Francisco, CA 94103
415.780.2001

 

 


By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
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