The opportunity to cheer for Team USA in the London 2012 Summer Olympics only comes along once every four years, so if you're one of the 28 million Americans with hearing loss, don't miss out on all the fun. The following suggestions can help you enjoy all the festivities regardless if you're enjoying the Olympics at home or with a group of friends at your favorite gathering place.
- Television headphones. There's nothing like watching the Olympics in the comfort of your own home, especially if you're fortunate enough to have a big screen that puts you in the middle of the action. Those with hearing loss may want to purchase a set of television headphones for the Games. There are different models, but look for ones that amplify the sound for you, while keeping levels comfortable for others who may be sharing the experience with you. The headphones, wireless or cabled, can range anywhere from $50 to $600 depending upon the manufacturer and headphone features. If you wear hearing aids, your audiologist or hearing center can help you decide which model will work best.
- Closed-Captioning. If you're not already enjoying the benefits of closed-captioning, a word-for-word or interpretive programming text displayed on your television, now might be a good time to try it. Televisions manufactured after 1993 have special decoders built in that provide these capabilities, but you do have to turn the feature on in order to enjoy it. Check with your cable company to determine which stations in your area will be providing closed-captioning programming for the 2012 Olympic Games or check your local cable guide, as the online cable guide often displays a "CC" symbol for programs with this option.
- Radio simulcasts. Will you be joining friends and family to watch the games in a public place? Check to see if the station is simulcast on a local radio station. If so, you may be able to listen to the Games on a portable radio. Check with your audiologist or hearing aid center to see if your aids have accessories that interact with other electronic devices, such as radios, televisions and MP3 players.
- Assistive Listening Devices. Another option for listening to the Olympics in a public place is by using an assistive listening device (ALD). These devices work with the public address system to deliver the sound from the announcer's microphone to your special earphones provided by the facility. ALDs can help isolate the sound you want to hear, while reducing the amount of background noise. Check with the stadium or convention center you'll be attending to see if they offer ALDs for the event you'll be attending.