Hearing loop system silences a need for local church members - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Hearing loop system silences a need for local church members


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Music and conversation are things that often bring people together. However, not being able to hear what was said clearly can be a struggle. Ken Fredrickson, a member of St. James the Greater Catholic Church for 40 years, said, "I've never been able to hear better in my life."

Mary Jane Griffin, from Eau Claire, said, "There are times I sat in church and  even if I'm in a group, I can't hear very plainly, so it's very hard to participate."

In December of 2013, St. James the Greater Catholic Church in Eau Claire installed a hearing loop. Now, thanks to a thin wire, members who have a hearing aid with a T-coil setting are not only able to hear the sounds of song but can pick out words much more clearly.

Fredrickson said, "Oh it's a god send, this loop system. I never heard so well. The singing, it brings it right to the ears, it's not like it's way out and around and hearing it through loud speakers or through TV.

The metal coil, which is the "loop", wraps around the perimeter of the room and picks up sound from a source, like a microphone. That wire then sends a magnetic signal, turning a person's hearing aids into personal, wireless speakers.

Fr. John Schultz, the pastor at St. James, said, "It goes directly through the hearing aid, which has a setting called the T-coil setting, and it's like a receiver in a hearing aid."

Terry Griffin, a member of the church who approached the idea to Schultz, said the cost to install the hearing loop was near $7,000. Schultz said the church is unsure how many members are benefiting, but those we spoke with say the work was worth it.

Griffin said, "As far as for those who will use and benefit from this, the price tag was really reasonable." Schultz said, "We just thought, if there were two to three people, who now cannot hear, who are going to be able to hear well, it's worth it to go ahead."

The hearing loop technology has been around for decades and is used worldwide, but it just recently made its way to Eau Claire. St. James is the only church in Eau Claire that has a hearing loop. The L. E. Phillips Public Library and Mayo Clinic Health Systems' Audiology Department has one as well.

Click here to find places in Wisconsin that have a hearing loop installed.

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