Council News

Council Loop System – humiliating?

HEDON TOWN COUNCIL is going to bring in ‘expert ears’ to assess its existing hearing loop system. The move was agreed last night after continuing controversy over the effectiveness of the system and whether it is one that respects the dignity of hard-of-hearing and deaf people.

hearing loop headset

Hearing loop headset – humiliating to wear?

In early April this year, it looked likely that a proposal by Councillor Sarah Rommell to update the existing system was going to be successful, but when the Finance & General Purposes committee discussed the issue on the 24th April and discovered that the existing loop system had cost over £3,500 and was considered to be ‘top-range’ at the time of its purchase, then councillors said they wanted more information on the specifications of both the old and new proposed systems. They also said that they would like the existing system to be tested by a group of people with hearing-aids.

The issue was brought to the council’s Property Committee last night. A quotation had been received by the council for the installation of a system that would update the existing system, but councillors expressed concern with some of the terms and conditions it contained. But the major issue remained one of whether the existing system, which involves wearing a hanging head-set, actually caused offence or humiliation to the user.

On the Hedon Blog, and repeated at the meeting last night, Councillor Rommell said:

“I strongly believe those with hearing problems should have access to a hearing system that they find dignified. One that doesn’t make the user feel humiliated. The present system involves the user wearing a ring around their neck which can be upsetting to some users and causes embarrassment. There is a modern system out there that is invisible to the onlooker and clearer for the user. This T loop system is used widely everywhere nowadays.”

Councillors who hadn’t used the system previously had a chance to last night. The large rifle-microphone was placed on the table and members passed head-sets around and two councillors sat in the public seats to test the system. While they seemed satisfied with the results, it was realised that the experience of councillors with good hearing was not any convincing test of the system.

Determined: Cllr Sarah Rommell

Determined: Cllr Sarah Rommell

The Town Clerk Mrs Joanna Richardson had received information from charity Action on Hearing Loss who had advised the council that it was obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that its services were accessible, but the council had ‘already made those adjustments’ with its existing system. The existing system was ‘compliant’.

A determined Councillor Rommell again expressed the view that the existing system was humiliating for users:

“If people want to come and listen or take part in council meetings, they shouldn’t be made to wear something they feel uncomfortable with. Also if that system is the one we’re proposing to use if the town hall gets its wedding license – are we really expecting wedding guests or the bride to put a hoop on like cattle! We shouldn’t humiliate users.”

She declared, in response to other councillors who expressed concerns about being diligent with council finances:

“If it’s a financial problem, and we’re worried about the costs of upgrading the system – I’ll fund-raise for it myself!”

After a heated discussion, the council agreed to invite Action on Hearing Loss, who the Chair of the Property Committee Cllr Allen Marshall referred to as the ‘expert ears’ to come and test the existing system and give the council advice on the matter. It was also agreed to invite Mr Jim Uney to be involved in any testing of the system. Mr Uney claims that the council’s existing loop system is ineffective and doesn’t work!

(Ongoing)

Visit: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk

4 replies »

  1. HAVE THE HEDON TOWN COUNCIL BEEN SOLD A PUP?
    Mr Editor, I apologize if at sometime I have given you the impression that I was involved in the early stages of testing the system presently in the upstairs chamber of The Town Hall, this system had been purchased and installed when I attended a meeting of Hoti at one of our organisations closing meetings, closing because we had a successful result in having the Incinerator stopped.

    At an earlier Open Council Meeting with the question of a sound system being installed in the upstairs chamber I was asked if would be available to attend a showing of the proposed set up, I agreed and offered both my e-mail address and my phone number ,but I wasn’t contacted further. I was not happy with the system at the Hoti meeting and have not been in trying it a further twice.

    I question the comment “it was considered Top of the range when it was purchased” I don’t think it was the best available even at that time, as will sometime show. I strongly suggest The Council has made a critical error in choosing this system, as expected future developments will be proved (proposed Town Hall application for a licence to hold civil marriage ceremonies) No lady in her right mind would wear a neck loop after probably spending hundreds of pound on a wedding outfit.

    I realise that Councillors have to be prudent in spending public money, but now is the time to admit a mistake has been made and correct it by purchasing a loop system as I have described in earlier articles on this web site, one where a hearing aid user just flicks a switch to T and can hear perfectly.

    I wish to compliment Councillor Rommell for her efforts in trying to persuade her fellow councillors they should change the system. Regards Jim Uney Hedon..

  2. Hi Janice
    Thank you for your comments. Would you be willing to make contact with me so that I can seek your guidance regarding the hearing system. I can be contacted on email: sarahrommell@yahoo.com

  3. At the open forum some time ago when this issue came up, Councillor Tom Goldspink suggested everyone in the room (40 people) should wear the hearing loop headset. Its a shame the suggestion that council meetings should be filmed on the internet came to nothing, as councillors wearing the headset at last nights meeting would have been a good watch.
    This needs to be sorted as Jim Uney has sat next to me at a couple of meetings and walked out early as he could not hear.

  4. The loop should be tested by a professional using international ANSI standards. Hearing aid wearers may not have their t-coil activated despite thinking they do or their aids may not be working properly. Independent testing of the loop should be done.

    The following provides details on induction loop testing from Assistive Audio/Ampertronics. Ampertronics is based in the UK.

    Everyone needs to be aware that the standard for measurement of induction loop performance is IEC60118-4, and that there are two parts to the standard: field strength and frequency response. 
    The standard for field strength per IEC60118-4 is 0dB plus or minus 3dB using a 1kHz signal feed, measured at 1.2 meters (4 feet) above floor level, using a 3rd Octave sweep.
    The standard for frequency response per IEC60118-4 is a flat response from 100 Hz to 5kHz using a pink noise signal feed.
    The field strength standard ensures the magnetic field is strong enough to be received by the hearing aid telecoil.
    The frequency response standard ensures the best intelligibility of speech. 
    The standard for a hearing aid telecoil is IEC60118-1.   
     
    If both the induction loop (IEC60118-4) and the hearing aid telecoil ((IEC60118-1) standards are met, the performance of an induction loop system will be stunningly good.  That’s not an accident as the purpose of the IEC standards are to ensure that hearing aid telecoils and induction loop systems work together.  
    Anyone … and this includes audiologists, the HOH, as well as installers … who tells you that hitting the IEC60118 standard isn’t important either does not understand what they’re talking about or is trying to take advantage of you. 
     
    A critical concept that must be understood is that putting more power into the induction loop system (increasing the amperage) WILL NOT SOLVE THE METAL LOSS PROBLEM. 
    This is standard textbook physics and it does not change … ever. 
    Increasing the power will result in a signal being too “hot” near the loop cable (above the IEC60118-4 plus 3dB reference standard), and it will still be weak (below the IEC60118-4 minus 3dB reference standard) in the center of the looped area. 
    This is why a simple perimeter loop (a wire around a room) will not work to the IEC60118 standard in venues where the floor construction is concrete with wire mesh reinforcement, or floors where concrete is laid over profile steel. 
    In these situations special loop configurations and equipment are required to overcome the loss that will be experienced due to the metal in the floor construction if you are going to hit the IEC60118 standard.   
     
    If you deviate from the IEC60118-4 or IEC60118-1 standard, you are entering a minefield.  
    You can be certain that equipment that is not capable of meeting the IEC60118 standard will be sold. 
    You can be certain that systems with incorrect loop configurations, that do not meet the IEC60118 standard, will be installed. 
    This is the classic lose – lose situation.  The organizations paying for the systems have wasted their money and the users of the systems, the HOH, receive no benefit from them.   

    Janice Schacter Lintz, Chair, Hearing Access Program, US

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