For Dan MacQuarrie, listening to live music was becoming difficult. Too much background noise.
Going to a doctor’s office or pharmacy was also problematic. For him to hear properly what the person on the other side of the counter was saying, they would have to raise their voice, telling the whole waiting room about his private information.
MacQuarrie provides these examples as they’re common problems for people who have hearing loss. Turning up a hearing aid to capture music at a concert, for instance, also raises the level of the background noise – papers rustling, feet shuffling.
Then came the Auris Hearing Loop. An induction hearing technology, the loop is installed in a building and then transmits directly to the telecoil in a hearing aid, a telecoil which about 70 per cent of hearing aids contain. Sound is then transmitted directly to a person’s hearing aid, with no extraneous noise.
Churches have been the first to take them on. In Salmon Arm, several churches are equipped with the Auris Loop, as is Shuswap Theatre, Salmon Arm City Hall’s council chambers and now the Uptown Askew’s as well as SASCU downtown. Farther afield, facilities such as the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, the Vernon library and Kelowna council chambers have the Loop.
Related: Letter - Take care of your hearing
Dan MacQuarrie and the MacQuarrie Institute have been instrumental in promoting the technology, providing funds for Askew’s and SASCU to install it.
“My interest is raising awareness so society can communicate with one another,” he says.
Becky Friesen is manager of member experience at SASCU. She chose a central teller wicket, rather than one off to the side.
“I didn’t want to isolate the person with the hearing impairment,” she says, pointing out that hearing impairments affect people of all ages.
Darlene Ogilvie, pharmacy manager at the Uptown Askew’s, appreciates the ability to speak quietly to customers.
“Confidentiality is a huge issue,” she says. “We don’t want to have to yell at people…”
MacQuarrie says all a person needs to do if they have a hearing aid is to go to their audiologist to have their T-coils turned on. Facilities which have the Auris Loop usually display a blue ear symbol marking its location.