Wilmington, NC, January 24, 2018:
Temple Baptist Church of Wilmington, located at 1801 Market St., recently installed an induction “hearing loop” system that enables hearing-impaired individuals who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants to be able to hear everything that is spoken or sung into a microphone in their worship services in the sanctuary. The system sends the sounds of the services directly to hearing aids, cochlear implants, or special headsets.
The induction hearing loop system is widely used in Europe, and is becoming more popular in the United States. It consists of a flat copper wire that is installed under the carpet to surround the pews. The loop is connected to a special amplifier that gets its input from the church’s sound system. Sermons, music, readings, prayers, and announcements are all transmitted by the loop via a magnetic signal.
A hearing aid that is equipped with a telecoil or “T-coil” device can receive the signal. The majority of hearing aids sold today have T-coils. By consulting with one’s audiologist, the user can have the T-coil enabled and optimized for loop listening, and learn how to activate it. If a person’s hearing aids do not have the T-coil feature, they can often be retrofitted with the device.
For hearing aid users with the T-coil feature, no headset is required in order to benefit from the hearing assistance system. For hearing impaired people without hearing aids, a limited number of headsets are available.
Temple Baptist leaders learned about the hearing loop from Pastor Mark Gaskins. His previous congregation had the system in their sanctuary. “Members and guests with hearing difficulties could hear the services clearly because of the hearing loop. Many of our Temple members suffer hearing impairment, and it is becoming more prevalent even among middle-aged and younger adults, especially veterans. So when I shared the idea with some of our leaders, they agreed that this would be an excellent way to help people participate more meaningfully in worship and be able to hear everything in our services,” Gaskins said.
As Temple leadership began exploring the possibility, the hearing loop idea was shared with a family that desired to make a memorial gift to fund a significant project, and they agreed to fund the installation. The loop was installed and was operational on Sunday, January 21. One member commented as she left after that morning’s worship service, “I could hear every word!”
The Temple congregation hopes that the hearing loop will not only be a blessing to their congregation, but to the surrounding community, especially those who do not attend church because they simply can’t hear what is being said. With the proper hearing aid or cochlear implant, they now have a place to worship where they will be able to hear every word.