Basically, barrier-free acoustics for the hearing impaired could not be more comfortable to implement: You enter an event area, you only switch your hearing aid onto the “T-coil”-setting and receive the sound system's signals directly in your devices - void of irritating environmental sounds and uneffected by unsatisfactory interior acoustics.
The transmission into the hearing aid is achieved by an inductive field, which is generated by a loop system. Properly installed, these systems provide event areas, churches, theaters or courts of law with inductive audio signals.
Other transmission systems, such as RF and infrared, which are specially adapted to the needs of the hearing impaired, require specific receivers which are handed to the user and need to be collected after the event. Before reusing them, it is necessary to thoroughly clean, desinfect or even exchange the parts sensible to hygiene.
The hearing aid industry is discussing an alternative method of transmitting audio signals from PA systems to the hearing aid, but up until now there is no information if and when this development will be ready for the market.
The trend towards smaller and smaller hearing devices, as well as certain deficits in knowledge on the part of hearing aid acousticians, have caused T-coil technology to be pushed aside in the United States and in Europe.
The enforcement of the "Americans with Disabilities Act 2010" (ADA) has generated new requirements, as public institutions are held to provide reliable solutions for the integration of the hearing impaired. Loop systems offer themselves as an ideal solution in many places.
The joint activities and initiatives of the American Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and American Academy of Audiology (AAA) to promote T-Coil technology have re-opened the US market for inductive transmission and reception technology.
For some time, there have been legal requirements comparable to those in the United States in many European nations – both on a national level and as EU regulations. The general perception of the term "barrier-free" is often reduced to providing ramps for wheel chairs. The awareness about barrier-free acoustics has not reached the general conscience much yet. Its neglective realization is still tolerated by the legislative bodies in many countries. One exception is France, which even penalizes the negligence of barrier-free acoustics.
The legislation regarding inclusion is causing an increasing number of policy makers in Germany to consider the realization of barrier-free acoustics. For example, the town of Gelsenkirchen has implemented various levels of barrier free acoustics in their new town hall, the Hans-Sachs-Haus, by means of AUDIOropa loop systems.