Everything around us is culture. We encounter it in nearly all everyday situations in life. Culture, from the Latin “cultura”, describes how people design, maintain, mentally configure and change their lives and how they live. So anything that is not natural, is culture. Most people, however, when they hear the word “culture”, immediately 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 presentations in large rooms is often difficult, especially for users of hearing aids and hearing implants. Echoes, background noises or other disruptive sounds can lead to the affected person not understanding little or nothing. Help can come through various audio technologies which enable audio signals to be received without interference into the audio processors of hearing solution users.
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 – simple systems can of course be built into private houses to make, for example, TV sound available inductively.
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 electromagnetic 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 cochlear 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 still sensible to find out about the availability of inductive hearing in advance.
In Austria, the Austrian Association of the Hearing Impaired has for some years provided on its web site lists of the public spaces it is aware of with hearing systems installed as a pdf file at https://www.oesb-dachverband.at/.
Whilst infra-red and radio appliance are usually used in private settings, schools mostly use 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 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 especially provide audio guides as standard which function as electronic museum guides and lead you through the museum or exhibition using sound recordings.
You can find a selection of audio technologies which you can get yourself and are compatible with your hearing implant system here!
Some cultural institutions offer reductions on production of a disabled ID. As there are no uniform rules, it is worth finding out in advance via the website to avoid any discussions at the venue.
You can find out about the power of music, whatever kind you like, and what a high value it has to us as humans on the web site hoerenbewegt.at, which deals with the subject in detail.
Theatre & cinema
A nice visit to the theatre, an entertaining and exciting evening in the cinema . You don’t have to miss out on that even with a 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 can make the museum visit a visual and listening pleasure for users of hearing implant systems with SONNET or SONNET 2 audio processors as well.
“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 your 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 small to process development steps and school students in acquiring reading skills and developing their own powers of expression, high-brow 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, of course sections can be read in advance of listening to familiarize yourself with the text, and especially any proper nouns in the work. To listen to the audio book without reading is however 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.