Assistive listening in highly secure environments
Assistive listening can be vital in a highly secure environment. Consider this.
According to AV Interactive:
“In boardrooms, courtrooms, and similar places where information discussed should not be shared beyond the confines of the room, it is important to ensure that those with hearing impairments can take part in the proceedings in a secure way. Under legislation such as The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the UK Equality Act, service providers have a legal obligation to make reasonable changes to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded. This includes offering facilities for the hearing impaired.
Best practices for deploying assistive listening
“A typical solution that most people are familiar with is the use of FM systems for broad coverage. It’s cost-effective and easily accessible. But what if the audio has to be contained within the venue?
“’In such a situation, we have to concern ourselves with securing audio streams, to ensure that confidential information is not shared outside of the room but is understood clearly by any hearing- impaired participants,’ explains Chris Miller, executive director at PSNI.
Choosing the appropriate technology
“Different technologies offer different benefits. So, what are the relative advantages of the options currently available?
“If a hearing aid is fitted with a T-coil, as is fairly common, the wearer’s preferred assistive listening technology is often the induction loop. Although installing a loop can present difficulties such as the need to lift carpets, many hearing aid users prefer it since access is as simple as flicking a switch on the hearing aid. The convenience benefits are immediate, as Chris Miller explains: ‘Since hearing aids are set up to suit the individual’s specific type of hearing loss, the listening experience is far better for the user. The loop is a secure solution in that in order to pick up the signal, one has to be inside the loop.’
“Digital RF uses a series of transceivers and receivers to provide full duplex audio communication between multiple parties. Chris Miller expands on the security benefits of a digital solution: ‘Transmissions can be secured using encryption, while a frequency-hopping algorithm can be used to avoid interference and prevent eavesdropping. What’s more, systems are available in kit form, making it easy to deploy and store as required.’
“Nancy Blanchard, consultant at Williams AV, adds: ‘Hearing aid users can make use of digital RF either by connecting their devices to a receiver, or by using a neck loop. This is an induction loop that, as its name suggests, is worn around the neck. It is connected to the digital receiver and works with the hearing aid’s t-coil in the same way as a normal induction loop.’
“Wi-Fi assistive listening technology offers high-quality sound and is especially convenient for users of smartphones. Anyone wishing to make use of the system can do so by downloading an app, logging in and listening through their own headphones or Bluetooth enabled hearing aids. It is not necessary to obtain a receiver.
“A popular solution, Wi-Fi signals can travel through walls, so for security, the signal has to be accessed using a PIN. This would be provided to users by an event organiser.
“Infrared (IR) ensures direct clear delivery of your message without sacrificing security. The signal cannot travel through opaque walls and is therefore contained within the room. Emitters are available in different sizes depending on coverage area required, and multiple emitters can be used to eliminate blind spots in larger venues.
Where to deploy assistive listening technologies
“There is a whole world of situations where an organisation needs to communicate with everyone in a room but also needs to feel confident that anything communicated is secure. The market is broad and covers a wide range of civil and public spaces, as Nancy Blanchard concludes: ‘Courtrooms, government offices, corporate meeting rooms, and medical consultation rooms are just a few of the buildings that demand this technology. Selecting the right assistive listening technology will ensure that the hearing impaired are included, legislation is compliant and that security is observed.’”