Let’s Loop Seattle

Advocating for hearing loops everywhere

Close-up color photo of a man with glasses.

“There I was at ‘Wicked’ weeping uncontrollably — and I don’t even like musicals. For the first time since I lost most of my hearing, live music was perfectly clear, perfectly clean and incredibly rich.”

Richard Einhorn
HLAA member 12 years

Hearing loops let you hear better in large and noisy environments

Imagine walking into a play at the Seattle Rep, confident that you’ll be able to hear the dialogue clearly. Or settling into your place of worship, pleased the words of inspiration will reach your ears. Or moving through an airport, knowing you will be able to understand the ticket agent and announcements. Hearing loops make these everyday activities possible for people who are hard of hearing.

Hearing loops are a hearing aid compatible assistive listening system (ALS) that improves the sound you hear through your hearing device.

Listen to the difference

A hearing loop demonstration at a New York City subway station ticket booth:

Hearing loops everywhere

Hearing loops are the preferred assistive listening system by people with hearing aids and cochlear implants. Why? Because hearing loops are simple to use, discreet, and improve hearing through your own hearing aids or cochlear implants.

In 2010, HLAA and the American Academy of Audiology launched a national education campaign called, Get in the Hearing Loop. This is now a national HLAA program. And in 2012, loop enthusiast Cheri Perazzoli founded Let’s Loop Seattle (soon to be Loop Washington) to help bring hearing loops to her home state.

Purple sign with a white ear and the letter T. This is the universal symbol for hearing access via a hearing loop.

This is the international sign for hearing loops. It combines the universal symbol for hearing assistance with the “T” to indicate a telecoil, or t-coil compatible system.

You may see a sign at the entrance to a large venue. On mass transit, customer service windows, and information desks you may see smaller stickers. The sign informs people that a hearing loop is available and how to engage the system.

Hearing loops in Washington State

Through our Let’s Loop Seattle communication access program, HLAA-WA has led the effort to get hearing loops in over 150 venues across Washington State. The Seattle Rep theater has loops at their box office, throughout the lobby, and in all three theaters. There are hearing loops at numerous libraries, senior centers and places of worship. And in council chambers in Seattle, King County, Spokane, Anacortes, and Bellevue. Plus, many more.

Courtesy of HLAA’s Get in the Hearing Loop database, here’s a list of looped Washington State places, updated in March 2023 . You can also find out more about local loop efforts on the Loop Seattle website.

Hearing loops on Google Maps

Google Maps is Getting in the Loop! Beginning in 2022, Google Maps is adding hearing loops as an accessibility feature. This means you can click on the accessibility tap for any venue listed in Google Maps and see if that venue has a hearing loop. HLAA-WA has provided Google Maps with a list of loop locations in Washington State. This project is a joint effort between Google Maps and HLAA’s Get In the Hearing Loop program.

Temporary hearing loops for conferences, trade shows, events

Spaces that are used for meetings and events are prime candidates for a temporary hearing loop. Providing the same great audio expereince as permanent hearing loops, temporary installations are perfect for conferences, trade shows, meetings, and other live events. Next time your hosting an event, think about looping the venue—hotel ballrooms, meeting rooms, trade show spaces—even arenas can all be looped.

“The hearing loop is one of those technologies that sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. It delivers.”

~ Juliette Sterkens
HLAA National Loop Advocate

How does a hearing loop deliver greater sound quality?

It may surprise you to learn that hearing aids, on their own, only work best in quiet surroundings and when you are close to the sound you want to hear. When there is greater distance to the sound source or there is background noise, there is less sound clarity.

Hearing Loops create a magnetic field that reduces the distance and background noise. The field picks up sound from a microphone and delivers it directly to telecoil-enabled hearing instruments. The loop isolates the sound you want to hear, and the telecoil inside your hearing aid or cochlear implant then customizes that sound for your personal hearing loss.

Graphic showing an amplifier, a head next to a microphone, sound waves, and three human silhouettes, each with a different hearing device

The hearing loop
surrounds the area where communication access is needed.

The sound source
such as a voice or music, is
captured using a microphone.

The microphone
transmits the sound source to an amplifier which passes the signal to the hearing loop.

The sound signal
is picked up by telecoil-enabled hearing aids or hearing loop receivers and headphones.

What’s a telecoil and why is it important?

A telecoil is a small, electronic component in most cochlear implants, and many hearing aids and bone conduction devices. Having telecoils in your personal hearing devices is the easiest and most discreet way to connect to assistive listening systems. When an ALS is available, you simply switch your device to telecoil mode and immediately enhance sound clarity. Ask your hearing health care provider about telecoil technology AND ask for instructions on how to use your t-coil program.

Hearing loops in different settings

Hearing loops are the only assistive listening system that is easily used in different situations — from large spaces to counter loops to personal hearing loops for small meetings. You can even use hearing loops at home with your television.

Large area hearing loop

Graphic showing a human speaking into a microphone that's connected to a box labeled hearing loop amplifier. Sound waves are shown reaching four other human heads, each with a different hearing device.
Two graphics: The left one shows two humans, one on either side of a barrier. One human is speaking into a microphone connected to a box that says hearing loop amplifier. The other human is wearing a hearing aid.
The right-hand graphic shows three humans sitting around a round table. On top of the table is a box with three wires, each connecting to a small device on the table. Two humans are wearing ear devices.

The looped Washington dream: looped communities

A looped community means all the places we live, work, go to school, play, shop, and seek care are accessible via the most discreet, simple hearing-assistive technology available today: the hearing loop.

Colorful graphic that's a map of a neighborhood showing Seattle's Space Needle, an audiologist office, and other landmarks and types of venues. The universal symbol for hearing access via telecoil (which is a blue sign with a white ear and the letter T) is scattered throughout the neighborhood.

Hearing loops are a component of universal design, a philosophy and practice that builds environments that are easily usable by a wide range of people, regardless of age, size or ability. While universal design promotes access for people with disabilities, it really benefits everyone by creating more inclusive and equitable communities.

Every year, new looped venues become available in Washington State, getting us closer to our dream. Learn more at Let’s Loop Seattle.