Our sense of hearing is as precious
and complicated as our sense of sight. Unfortunately, our hearing
degrades with age and exposure. As we get older, our ears become
increasingly less sensitive to higher frequencies and volume levels.
Anyone at any age can suffer from hearing loss because they were
exposed to loud sounds for too long. Hearing loss can also result
from a one-time exposure to a very loud event (like a gun being
fired next to your ear or even very loud music (live, or via speakers
or even headphones)).
Regardless of how a person has lost their hearing, there are
devices that can help them in most cases. Assuming the person
doesn't have profound hearing loss, often a hearing aid can help.
The problem with hearing aides is that they can't distinguish
between what you want to listen to and what you don't want to
listen to. That is, both the desired sound and the noise is amplified
equally. This is especially bothersome in an environment like
a restaurant or other public place where there are many people.
It also applies to church sanctuaries.
Imagine going to a movie theater to watch the latest hit movie.
Once the movie starts, the screen isn't filled with pictures,
but just "snow". How exciting would that movie be? Would
you stay and listen to it? In the same way, many people who are
hard of hearing show up at church, only to sit and watch what
goes on because they can't clearly hear what's going on.
A solution for people with hearing loss (regardless if they use
hearing aides or not) is the use of an assistive listening device.
The most popular ones are wireless FM receivers with an earbud
or pair of headphones. The user has a small "radio"
receiver which they can clip on their clothing or hold in their
hand. A single or double earbud or pair of headphones is plugged
into the unit. A volume control allows adjustment for different
The other part of the system is the radio transmitter--this is
the unit which "broadcasts" the audio signal to the
multiple receivers. This receiver is connected to an audio output
of a sound system. To best control the volume level out of the
mixer, a compressor/limiter is needed. This helps reduce the amount
of volume changing the users need to do. (The compressor/limiter
also keeps the input of the transmitter from being overloaded,
Every church that has a sound reinforcement system should have
an assistive listening system. The cost is minimal and it can
help change people's lives.
To people who are hearing impaired, giving them an assistive
listening device invites them to participate in the service again.