Sudbury·Audio

Audio loop system for hearing aid users installed at retail stores in Sudbury

The Sudbury branch of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association has teamed up with several retailers in the northern Ontario city to install a hearing loop system at store cash registers, for customers who may be hard of hearing.

4 Your Independent Grocer locations, 2 Giant Tiger locations have the technology

Hearing loop systems for customers who use hearing aids have been installed at four Your Independent Grocer locations in Greater Sudbury, as well as two Giant Tiger locations. (Supplied by Joe Stacknik)

It's now easier for hearing aid users in Sudbury, Ont., to understand what a cashier is saying to them at the grocery store.

The Sudbury branch of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association has teamed up with two retailers to install a hearing loop system at cash registers in stores.

Also known as a frequency induction loop system, a hearing loop is a wireless system that sends signals to individuals' hearing aids. The hearing aid must be equipped with a telecoil (t-coil), small copper wire that acts like an antenna.

"I like to say they have a speaker in their ear," said Joe Stacknik, hearing awareness co-ordinator in Sudbury. He explained that a microphone is near the cashier. The system sends a signal to a customer's hearing aid when they're standing by the checkout, to amplify what the cashier is saying. 

Joe Stacknik, hearing awareness co-ordinator for the Sudbury branch of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, says mask wearing and use of barriers presented hearing problems for everyone. (Supplied by Joe Stacknik)

"The cashier doesn't have to do anything — they just have to do their job," he said. "They don't have to bend over to talk into the mic or anything like that."

People with hearing issues may face challenges in loud public settings. During the pandemic, mask use and Plexiglas barriers have added to the challenges.

"People with hearing loss were struggling — even people without hearing loss were struggling to hear people in masks and behind barriers," Stacknik said.

Hearing loop systems have now been set up at four Your Independent Grocer locations in Greater Sudbury, as well as two Giant Tiger locations. There are plans to set the system up at the Independent Grocer in Espanola, as well as at FreshCo.

There are several spots in each grocery store where the hearing loop will work for customers with hearing aids, which must be equipped with a telecoil (t-coil) to work with the system. (Supplied by Joe Stacknik)

The Sudbury Theatre Centre is already set up with the technology. A few local churches have hearing loops, and the Places des Art building will have the systems installed once it opens. 

"Sudbury's been kind of the test market, but we're going to go throughout northeastern Ontario. That is the big picture for us," Stacknik said, adding that there are plans to install the system in North Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie.

Have you heard of Hearing Loops? The technology is becoming more and more popular. It's technology that helps people who use hearing aids turn up the volume of a conversation. We heard why some grocery stores in Sudbury now have them installed. 9:40

With files from Sarah MacMillan

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now