November 25, 2011
Listen here. Aired on NPR's All Things Considered.
I was interviewing psychology professor David Myers for a print piece back in September when he pitched me on his passion: hearing loops. Hearing or induction loops let hearing-aid wearers hear much clearer sound than usual, particularly in cacophonous settings like airports, stations, churches and synaogues. They're quite common in the UK and Scandinavia, but have been installed only in pockets of the US. Myers and other advocates are pushing to bring them to many more locations around the country. I finished this piece in mid-October, and days later this story was published in the New York Times. It's a great piece by science writer John Tierney, much commented on by those with hearing loss and their loved ones.
Photo: New York City subway booth with hearing loop visible around the inside of the glass (it's behind that white tape).
This story doesn't mention the cost of hearing aids, which is considerable. They can easily cost several thousand dollars each and are not covered by health insurance. One more thing: when people lose their hearing they lose their ability to communicate. The better they can hear, the more those with hearing loss can take part in daily life. A topic like this isn't 'sexy', as one audiologist put it, but it is important. 10% of Americans have some form of hearing loss. As baby boomers age, that number will only increase.