Induction loop project update

Over the years audio induction loop systems have been installed into teaching rooms on campus to aid the hard of hearing. A system consists of a 'loop' of cable, installed around a designated area, usually a room or building, which generates a magnetic field picked up by a hearing aid.

Unfortunately, many of the University's systems were installed prior to ISS Audio Visual Services (AVS) becoming responsible for their management and support, and this has led to:

  • Inconsistencies in the equipment installed and the quality of the actual loop cable
  • Little or no knowledge being available around loop fields and system reliability
  • Ambiguity over support and maintenance issues

In November 2008 a project team (comprising Andy Ramsey, with support from Colin Fahey and Michael Savage) was set up to gathering as much information as possible on the existing loop systems installed into rooms supported by AVS. The team's initial findings painted a bleak picture: only 33% of the 52 loop systems installed in supported teaching rooms were working anywhere near an acceptable level.

During summer 2009 the project team spent considerable time investigating the problems and where possible, addressing issues. The majority of work undertaken involved rewiring existing AV systems to ensure that loops received the necessary AV feeds at an acceptable audio level.

A follow-up review in October 2009 revealed that, at no additional cost (excluding labour) to the department, the team had managed to get 35 of the 52 loop systems functional - more than double what we had in March 2009. Poorly installed or inadequate equipment or physical damage to loop cables (usually fitted under carpet due to contractor carelessness) were the main reasons why we were unable to bring some of the remaining systems up to an acceptable standard.

So what's next? 

In January 2010 we enlisted the assistance of professional audio induction loop system company Ampertronic. An engineer from the company spent two days with our technical staff carrying out further in-depth tests on 19 of our systems to see how we measured up against current British Standards.

We are currently awaiting the engineer's detailed report which will provide recommendations on how we can bring the quality of our existing systems in line with the recognised standards. The next step is to carry out the recommended work and arrange for surveys to be done on the remainder of the loop systems on campus.

We are also actively specifying that when any teaching room refurbishment is carried out, the experts from Ampertronic are brought in to carry out a full site survey. AVS can then manage and oversee the loop system installation and ensure that it complies with what has been specified.

As audio induction loop systems are brought up to the required standard AVS have agreed to provide support and maintenance to systems as required

Published: 08:50 15th December 2011, Last Updated: 08:52 15th December 2011