Assistive Listening: As a Tech Community, Serve Your Members

It’s hard to associate hearing loss with anything other than old age, but as the World Health Organization tells us, it could very easily be the teenager in your youth group.

Assistive Listening: As a Tech Community, Serve Your Members
Due to hearing loss being a non-age-related issue, Assistive Listening now becomes something that is not just mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but something that becomes a direct need for our congregations. This makes assistive listening to be not just another expense, but a way to reach those that may otherwise be marginalized within our own community.
Assistive Listening: As a Tech Community, Serve Your Members
Due to hearing loss being a non-age-related issue, Assistive Listening now becomes something that is not just mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but something that becomes a direct need for our congregations. This makes assistive listening to be not just another expense, but a way to reach those that may otherwise be marginalized within our own community.

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Technology Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, May-June 2017
The May-June 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine includes a series of recent articles that appeared on the Worship Tech Director website over the last few months, as part of a special edition, first made available to InfoComm 2017 attendees.
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I firmly believe that to have a complete understanding of how to do something properly, we need to understand why we need to do it. For me, chasing this understanding is both a blessing and a curse.

Instead of looking at assistive listening as an expense, look at it from a ministry aspect or even a custom serving aspect for the non-church readers.

It’s a blessing, because once I understand something at a fundamental “why” level, I grasp it and can apply it to multiple aspects of the job. At the same time, it’s a curse, because without that understanding at a fundamental level, I don’t feel like I fully grasp the topic.

Assistive listening is not any different. The technical aspect of assistive listening is well documented, but the “why” is often lacking the completeness I believe it deserves.

I have been interested in hearing and the way our minds perceive audio, since I was in college. During my studies, I learned that hearing loss is much more prevalent in younger age groups than I would have thought. There are cases of hearing loss from listening to music with ear buds for extended periods of time at unsafe levels, to soldiers returning from war with significant loss.

In 2015 the World Health Organization, or WHO, noted:

“Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, according to WHO. Hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.”

The Hearing Loss Association of America gets a little more specific by saying that “About 20 percent of Americans, 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss.

These numbers are particularly staggering to me, but should not be all that surprising. As the WHO states, being constantly exposed to noise puts us at a much higher risk for hearing loss.

It seems that as we get more and more technology dependant, the less we have of down time. I know personally I even sleep with a TV on. While it is not loud, it is still exposure, and it seems to be constant.

Hearing loss also comes with a major stigma. It’s hard to associate hearing loss with anything other than old age, but as the WHO tells us, it could very easily be the teenager in your youth group. The assumption of a stigma is especially true with young adults that experience hearing loss. It can make someone very self conscious to ask for help with an issue that is viewed by many to be an age-related issue.


More About Tom Noble
Tom Noble received his Bachelor of Science in Acoustics from Columbia College in Chicago. During college, he served as a researcher for the Army Corps of Engineers with a specific focus on Low-Frequency Propagation. After college, he owned his own company working with churches and other AV clients. One of his favorite jobs during that time was being able to design and build a recording studio in downtown Nashville. Shortly after, he worked for an integrator, doing work all over the country, specializing in DSP programming and tuning of rooms for many churches and large corporate clients. He is now the head AV design engineer for Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville. He is married to his beautiful wife, and has a 2-year-old son.
Get in Touch: [email protected]    More by Tom Noble

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, May-June 2017
The May-June 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine includes a series of recent articles that appeared on the Worship Tech Director website over the last few months, as part of a special edition, first made available to InfoComm 2017 attendees.


Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Budgeting · Leadership · Spiritual Health · Assistive Listening · Congregation · Hearing Loss · Listening · Ministry · Stigma · All Topics

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