The race is on! Hearing or induction loops that are certified to comply with International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for accommodating hearing disability. This is a major reason why “looping” is fast becoming an industry in itself with many companies offering loop installation services.
However, before signing contracts there are a few things that we must be aware of. There is so much more to looping than stringing a wire around a room and substandard loops give this worthwhile technology an iffy reputation. Also, disability access laws can vary from state to state.
A contractor who gives a quick look to the premises with a promise to “fix us right up” is a red flag. The design and installation of systems without interference crackles or hums and with clear, consistent sound across the listening area present challenges that are often not for the faint of heart. A thorough understanding of electromagnetic fields and their quirks is key to a successful project.
Therefore, it is important to ask for the installer’s certification credentials and references. As always, finding a competent specialist for the job is of the essence.
Here are some questions and comments that we might expect from a knowledgeable looping contractor:
1) What is the intended use of the room – music, theatre, speaker presentations etc? Will people be standing or sitting down?
2) Are there competing systems that could cause interference, such as audio systems, projectors, computers and amplifiers? How close is the mechanical equipment room?
3) Are architectural drawings of the building available? What construction materials were used such as wood, stone or metal? A site evaluation includes an inspection of the floor, walls, ceiling and vents, making measurements and taking readings to check for existing background hums.
4) Are there privacy issues? Loop energy spills or “leaks.” People outside the looped area could pick up the spilled signal with a T-coil equipped device. The contractor should ease the client’s mind with an explanation of how the loop design will solve the problem.
5) The contractor must guarantee that the system will comply with the legally enforceable standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission: IEC 60118- 4. A certificate to this effect will be presented to the client at the end of the job.
For information on looping resources try www.HearingLoop.org/vendors.htm