Hearing loop technology coming to the Lied Center

photo by: Mike Yoder for Lawrence Memorial Hospital/Contributed Photo

Dr. Richard Meidinger enjoys attending performances at the Lied Center of Kansas. Meidinger, a retired radiologist, has been an advocate for installation of a hearing loop at the Lied Center, which will improve the experience of patrons with hearing loss. Physicians with Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates, 1112 W. Sixth St., were lead donors in the campaign to finance the hearing loop.

For Richard Meidinger, hearing an entire performance at the Lied Center of Kansas has been a challenge.

“Hearing aids work best for a distance about 4 feet from the speaker,” said Meidinger, a retired radiologist who has used hearing aids for at least 20 years. “So when I’m in a performing arts center and the performance is many feet away, it is extremely tough to hear.”

The Lied Center’s previous infrared hearing assistive system had a multitude of drawbacks.

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“I would have to pick up a receiver box to wear around my neck,” Meidinger said. “Sometimes the batteries wouldn’t have been changed, so they would not work. I would have to remove my hearing aids to use the headphones with the system, and since the infrared system is light-to-sound, if someone were to stand and block the light that was feeding to my receiver, I wouldn’t be able to hear a thing.”

But that’s all going to change for Meidinger and other Lied Center patrons who have hearing loss, thanks largely to a group of local otolaryngologists.

As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, the center undertook a campaign to finance the installation of a hearing loop system.

“The loop can have some very profound effects,” Meidinger said.

Soon, people who are hearing-impaired will experience exceedingly better sound quality at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive. This technology transmits an audio signal directly to the telecoil in a patron’s hearing aid or cochlear implant.

“It is like being in a haystack,” Meidinger said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the very front or the very back, the sound will be the same.”

The physicians at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates wanted to support the project.

“We knew we wanted to be a lead donor in this installation project because of how important a system like this is for those who are hard of hearing,” said Dr. Robert Dinsdale, one of the physicians at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates, 1112 W. Sixth St., which also includes Drs. Lee Reussner, Stephen Segebrecht and Leo Martinez.

photo by: Lawrence Memorial Hospital/Contributed Image

Dr. Robert Dinsdale

Dinsdale, who has hearing loss, and his partners understand the benefits of installing a hearing loop system and how tough it can be to hear in areas without a loop.

“We are thrilled,” he said, “to be a part of this step forward at the Lied Center. The artists and staff bring wonderful new sounds and ideas to our community and we love helping people hear them.”

Work now is underway on the project, according to Derek Kwan, Lied Center executive director. The new system, which will be called the Lawrence Otolaryngology Hearing Loop, should be operational by late July.

“We are incredibly grateful to Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates for their amazing leadership and vision,” Kwan said.

Hearing loss by the numbers

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America:

• About 48 million Americans, or 20 percent, have some type of hearing loss.

• Hearing loss is the third most prevalent health condition in older adults.

• About 28.8 million adults in the United States could benefit from using hearing aids.

— Jessica Brewer is an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at LMH, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section. She can be reached at Jessica.Brewer@lmh.org.

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