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Sarasota's Whole Foods Market is 1st Fl. retailer to add a hearing loop | Health

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Sarasota's Whole Foods Market is 1st Fl. retailer to add a hearing loop
Health, News
Sarasota's Whole Foods Market is 1st Fl. retailer to add a hearing loop

Sarasota, Florida-The Whole Foods Market store in Downtown Sarasota has added a hearing loop system to offer their customers with hearing loss greater access while shopping.

A loop was installed at cash register #1 to allow the cashier's spoken words to be sent directly into the hearing aids of customers at the time when many shoppers raise questions. This is the first use of a hearing loop system by a retailer throughout the South of the US.

Hearing loops are the only system that provide a clear transmission of a speaker's voice directly into a user's hearing aid or cochlear implant, as long as the device has a t-coil. Almost all new hearing aids come equipped with a tiny receiver called a t-coil and 69% of all hearing aids in use in the nation had one as of mid 2010. Sarasota and Manatee County has 110,000 people with hearing loss accounting for 16.1% of the population, tied for the highest U.S. incidence.

Studies have shown that 70% of hearing aid and cochlear implant wearers miss 30% or more of what is said in public places, a key reason many significantly limit their community activities, like theater, meetings and shopping. Eileen Hampshire, Chair of the Downtown Sarasota Alliance pointed out, "If you need more business, the loop offers an affordable opportunity to reach a big part of the market you are probably missing. The system is highly effective, low cost and virtually maintenance free, so the payback is extremely attractive."

All the major theaters, churches, community centers and government venues in Europe have a hearing loop. Many European businesses, including banks, pharmacies and retail stores also depend on the system to communicate with consumers who are hard of hearing. Recently, this system has achieved significant penetration in many US cities, particularly in New York, Michigan and Wisconsin. The first system in Sarasota opened at the North Sarasota Library in March. In April, Owen's Fish Camp and Caragiulo's Restaurants became the first two restaurants in the nation to provide a portable tabletop system for their diners. The Whole Foods Market is located at 1451 First Street in Sarasota.

For more information, contact Ed Ogiba at 941-966-8999 or ed@groupefo.com or visit www.hlas.org.

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