New Hearing Loop in Town Board Room
Huntington Listens to Those Who Can’t Hear
New hearing loop in Town Board room improves audio clarity for those with hearing aids and cochlear implants
Persons with hearing loss should find it a little easier to follow the proceedings in the Town Board Room at Huntington Town Hall, thanks to the installation of a hearing loop that works with hearing aids and cochlear implants to improve the clarity of sound emanating from the room’s audio system.
Huntington is the only Suffolk County town to have such a system, which has been installed at places such as the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Botanical Garden and the city’s two baseball stadiums, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
“We invite everyone to attend our public meetings, and we feel it is important that those who do come can follow the proceedings without struggling to understand what is being said. This loop helps bring government closer to residents with hearing loss and allows them to be part of the process,” Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said.
The system, which cost $8,000, was installed last November by North East Hearing of Miller Place. Installation entailed placing a copper wire in the floor throughout the room. The wire is connected to a control box and existing audiovisual equipment; the wireless technology magnetically transfers a microphone or television sound signal to the receivers in hearing aids or cochlear implants, improving quality. For those without either hearing instrument who need assistance, headphones attached to a lanyard are available (the headphones are sanitized after each use).
The system was installed after meetings with Halesite resident Len Urban, who frequently attended sessions held in the room – including the Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals – but was frustrated by his inability to understand what the board members were saying, even after getting a cochlear implant in 2013. Urban met with Town officials and shared research he had done into various systems. Urban also pointed out that a loop system was preferable to a headset system, which the Town had been considering. “A person with a bulky headset would stand out in a crowd and, therefore, many in need would not use them. A loop system required the push of a button with no fuss or embarrassment,” Urban wrote in a recent newsletter of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s North Shore chapter.
Urban wrote about being invited to Town Hall for a demonstration of the newly-installed system. He was asked how things sounded. “I couldn’t answer because of the large lump in my throat,” he said in the article, “so I gave a thumbs-up and signed, THANK YOU.”
In the photo (l-r): Mark Tyree, director, Department of General Services; Len Urban; Supervisor Frank P. Petrone; and Linda Jones and Steven Couzzo, members of the Town’s Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons With Disabilities.