Everything around us is culture. We encounter it in nearly all everyday situations in life. Culture, from the Latin “cultura”, describes how people shape, maintain, mentally configure and change their lives and how they live. So anything that is not produced by nature, is culture. However, when most people think of “culture”, they think of music, painting and art – important aspects of culture that should also be accessible to people with hearing impairments without barriers.
Large event venues often have acoustics which can have a negative effect on the comprehensibility of speech or clarity of music. Listening to voices and music at events like concerts, theatre productions, church services or lectures in large rooms is particularly difficult for users of hearing aids and hearing implant systems. Echoes, background noise or other disruptive sounds can cause the affected person to understanding little or nothing. Help can come through various audio technologies which enable audio signals to be received from audioprocessor without interference.
With the installation of an induction appliance, the useful signal is transferred directly into the hearing system via a magnetic field. These sorts of systems are now available in many public places like cinemas, lecture rooms, churches, bank and ticket counters, in some countries even in taxis or buses for city tours. Of course, simple sysems can also be installed in private homes, e.g. to make the TV sound available via induction.
Technically, an induction loop can be considered as a wire loop that runs around the edges of a room or a defined seating area. The input from a microphone or another signal source is then fed via the amplifier of the induction system into a wire loop, which generates an electro-magnetic field. Audio processors of hearing systems or implants that have an induction coil can pick up the alternating electromagnetic field and transform it into signals in the audio processor. This minimizes external interfering sounds. It is also possible for the user to further adjust signals if necessary through the volume control on their own audio processor
Users who want to receive that signal need to be within the wire loop and put their system into the appropriate reception mode: if you only want to hear those signals within the induction system, the mode is usually designated “T”, where the also common designation “MT” stands for the combination of signals from the induction loop and the microphone of the hearing system equally. The desired operation mode can also be selected by remote control for the cochlea implant systems and some hearing aids.
In public areas, the presence of an induction loop is generally indicated with a corresponding sign pictogram. If you wish to reserve tickets for a theatre production or for the cinema, it is sensible to find out about the availability of inductive hearing in advance.
In Austria, the Austrian Association of the Hearing Impaired has for many years provided lists of the hearing systems installed in public areas that it is aware of on its website as a pdf file at https://www.oesb-dachverband.at/.
Whilst infra-red and radio systems are mostly used in the private area, schools mostly used so-called FM systems.
New technologies now make it even easier for operators of cultural facilities and improve the sound quality for users. In this, the audio signal is transmitted directly to the personal smartphone using WLAN and an app. From there, it can be listened to either with headphones or by being fed into a hearing system via bluetooth or a personal induction loop, depending on what equipment the individual listener is using. Those without such equipment can borrow a mobile telephone with a pre-installed app and portable induction loop from the customer services – provided they have T-reception on their hearing system. You can find more information about this at https://de-at.sennheiser.com/
Since this technology is very recent, it is sensible to ask about the availability at the cultural facility of your choice in advance.
Museums in particular provide audio guides as standard, which function as an electronic museum guides and lead you through the museum or exhibition using sound recordings.
You can find a selection of audio technologies that you can also obtain for yourself, and that are compatible with your hearing implant system can be found here!
Some cultural institutions offer discouts if you show a disability ID. Since there are no uniform rules, it is worth checking the relevant website in advance to avoid any discussions on site.
You can find out about the power of music, whatever kind you like and the importance it has in our lives on the website hoerenbewegt.at, which discusses the subject in detail.
Theatre and cinema
A nice visit to the theatre, an entertaining and exciting evening at the cinema . You don’t have to miss out on that even with hearing impairment. Many theatres provide high quality technical hearing support which can be connected to your hearing system.
Museums offer people tremendously varied insights into the world of pictorial and visual art. There are opportunities all over the world to admire works from the beginning of human history to modern art. If you want to find out more about an exhibition or the individual works, you can join a tour with an art curator or borrow an audio guide, which is provided in several languages in most museums.
The audio guide can usually be linked with the MED-EL AudioLink and so this way make the museum visit a visual and auditory pleasure, also for users of hearing implant systems with SONNET or SONNET 2 audio processors.
“Literature must be fun. It must bring people joy, pleasure and fun and even happiness.”
Literature has a range of functions for us – entertainment, education, relaxation or excitement, a journey in time; in short, an adventure in our mind. Literature can be a further facet of hearing training if it is provided in the form of audio books.
If fairy tales help the very young children to process developmental steps and school students in acquiring reading skills and developing their own powers of expression, then upscale literature is also an important component of personal development.
It is helpful as hearing training if the work is available in audio and unabridged form and in a verbatim identical printed version, that is as a download version or CD and also as a pdf or a book. This means that what is being heard can always be read at the same time. To make it easier, what is being heard can also be read in sections in advance to become familiar with the text and especially with the proper nouns. Listening to the audio book without reading along is still recommended, with appropriate practice.
It is of course important to ensure adequate speech quality in an audio book; musical or sound accompaniment can be evocative, but often make understanding more difficult.
If all of this is taken into account, there is nothing else standing in the way of enjoying literature and having adventures in your head, and your new hearing is being trained in a pleasant manner.