Springfield Grocery Outlet

The Springfield Grocery Outlet is a grocery store in Oregon run by husband-and-wife Tom and Tracy Hogan. The wife, Tracy, has recent bilateral hearing loss and is 6+ months into wearing hearing aids for the first time in her life.

Being fairly new to the hearing loss community, she became very proactive in educating herself and advocating for better hearing. Tracy has recently joined the Loop Lane County Committee in Eugene, OR where the mission there is to understand, educate and advocate for the installation and usage of hearing loop/telecoil systems in appropriate public and private spaces.

Alan Anttila is one of the board members of the committee as well as the owner of Hearing Support Solutions LLC, who did the installation at the Springfield Grocery Outlet. Alan has been wearing hearing aids for 11 years, so he’s acutely aware of the challenges that the hearing loss community faces.

Having experienced it firsthand, Tracy now knows the difficulties in trying to hear in different environments. Knowing that her store has many ambient noises such as background music, scanning, talking, etc., she felt that hearing loops should be installed at the checkout counters of her store where these noises can get in the way of 1 to 1 communication with the cashier, causing a stressful experience for hearing aid wearers.

Tracy reached out to Hearing Support Solutions to install a loop at each of the checkout counters in the store. Five of Contacta’s Above the Counter Loop Kits were installed with the M74-02 Discreet Microphone. Due to the kit’s low-profile structure, it can be fitted into many positions which became key in this installation.

Since the checkout stands are constructed completely out of steel and stainless steel, this presented challenges for placement of the loop due to metal absorbing the signal. To work around this issue, Alan installed Contacta’s IL-AE97 Loop Aerial using the bracket to attach the loop aerial to the wood payment platform.

This placement is ideal height for the loop field and being away from the metal. The hearing loop sign is located right where the customer is standing during checkout so they will know a hearing loop is available, and since the aerial is located inside the sign, the customer is standing in the best range to receive the loop signal.

Another challenge that presented itself was microphone placement. Since the space below the computer touch screen was very tight and the scale is frequently removed for cleaning, mounting the mic on the top of the scale or monitor arm was not an option.

By using Contacta’s Discreet Microphone, Alan was able to create a compact solution. He created a microphone holder out of aluminum bar stock that placed the microphone about 4″ above the computer screen, this way the constant tapping on the screen would not be picked up by the mic. The microphone is also aimed directly at the cashier’s face. Alan knows that sound collection via thoughtful mic placement is critical for people with severe to profound hearing loss.

 

The extra work was worth it in the end as every checkout in the store is now looped. As a hearing aid wearer herself, Tracy knows how valuable these loops will be for customers who are hard of hearing and is proud that her store is now a safe and accessible place.

In this video, she shows off her newly looped checkout counters and explains how they work – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI0vhf9HjqA

The owners are hopeful to get customer reviews via signage and comments made to the cashiers as the loops are put to use.



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