Enhanced audio equipment turns up school board room volume for the hearing-impaired
Published 12:05 am Tuesday, May 23, 2023
SALISBURY — A Rowan-Salisbury Schools board member expressed appreciation for the recent installation of technology in the board room designed to enhance audio capabilities for the hearing-impaired.
The Loop technology provides an improved hearing experience for individuals with hearing loss, making it easier to participate in meetings and stay informed during important discussions.
Rowan-Salisbury School System became invested in providing the Loop technology after board of education member Sabrina Harris was elected. Harris, who has had a hearing impairment since birth, first used an iPad transcription system during board meetings. The transcription often picked up background noise that created nonsensical sentences, making it difficult for Harris to keep up with the discussion in real-time.
“This technology is going to be a real game-changer, not just for me, but for anyone else who experiences hearing loss,” Harris said. “We are going to really start something with this. Everyone will want to come experience this technology in our boardroom, and I hope it inspires other spaces throughout Rowan County to invest in this technology.”
The Loop technology, also known as an induction loop system, creates a magnetic field picked up by a hearing aid or cochlear implant equipped with a T-coil. That allows individuals with hearing loss to hear the speaker’s voice more clearly without the interference of background noise.
The Robertson Board Room is the first location in Rowan County to feature Loop technology. The technology is easy to use and can be accessed by anyone with a compatible hearing device.
“We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for all members of our community,” said Dr. Kelly Withers, the RSS superintendent. “The installation of Loop technology is an important step in ensuring that everyone has access to information and can fully participate in important discussions.”
Hearing loss affects approximately 15 percent of American adults over age 18, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
“We are thrilled to offer this technology to our community,” Withers said. “We believe that it will greatly benefit individuals with hearing loss and make our meetings more accessible to all members of our community.”
Harris echoed the importance of making spaces accessible for all participants.
“In my entire professional life, I have never had an organization take such steps to include me,” Harris said. “It’s incredible that our school system cares so much and is so eager to do whatever it takes to create a positive and productive environment for people with hearing impairments.”