Immanuel Lutheran Church's Lester Neideck demonstrating the hearing assistance system.
Immanuel Lutheran Church's Lester Neideck demonstrating the hearing assistance system. Tracey Johnstone

Technology helps churchgoers hear the message

TURNING up the volume wasn't going to help the hard-of-hearing parishioners at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Buderim, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Its ageing congregation members needed to be connected to the voice of its leader and in a way that suited the different types of hearing assistance aids already in use.

The church's sound system team leader, Lester Neideck, said the worship centre was built in 1999, well before public building construction standards included hearing assistance equipment.

"Following a couple of inquiries for hearing assistance, I was charged by our church council to investigate possible solutions," Mr Neideck said.

"To that end I conducted a survey that showed that about 15 out of a total of about 350 Sunday worshippers would take advantage of a system."

As hearing aids are often made for close quarter conversations, turning up the volume on the public address wasn't going to work.

"It's the intelligibility of the words being spoken is the main problem," Mr Neideck said.

"Having the speech or music delivered directly to their ear via the small ear speaker, or directly into their hearing aid via the T-Coil function, makes all the difference."

The chosen system uses an infrared transmission line-of-sight device mounted on the front wall inside the church.

A user wears a small receiver on a cord hung around their neck. The attached loop is necessary for anyone with a hearing aid or cochlear implant which incorporates T-coil function.

The signal is retransmitted via the neck loop and received by the hearing aid.

For any member of the congregation without the T-Coil function or a hearing aid, an ear speaker or earbuds is plugged into the device which is collected from the charging rack at the start of each service.

The Listening Technologies system cost $5760 including 12 receiving devices and ear speakers.

"The system has been operational since mid-January and those using it are very pleased with the results," Mr Neideck said.

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