Making our cabin environment even more inclusive

Flying can be quite an ordeal for the hard of hearing , even more so in times of Covid with the impossibility to lip-read people around them.

A feeling of exclusion

When trying to create a more inclusive environment for travelers with disabilities, the aviation industry as a whole has mainly focused on reduced mobility or visual impairment. Disabilities such as hearing loss have so far suffered from a lack of consideration. According to the World Health Organisation’s figures from 2018, 6.1% of the world’s population – some 466 million people – suffer from a hearing loss that qualifies as a disability and this should double by 2050. While some airlines provide assistance to the deaf, there is a clear gap for hard of hearing passengers.

A challenging flying experience

The on-board experience passengers with hearing loss are offered is too often limited, and makes them feel excluded from everything happening around them; most of the time, they cannot clearly hear crew announcements, safety instructions or connections information. Even those equipped with a hearing-aid can barely hear anything, due to surrounding sources of noise. They even generally need to turn their aids off and do feel isolated.

A simple solution, and yet a world first in commercial aviation

The solution already existed and we just needed to make it fly! Theatres, buses, museums, and now some airports, are already using an assistive listening technology for visitors and travelers with hearing loss: the hearing-aid loop, also called induction loop.

A hearing-aid loop system allows hard of hearing people who use a hearing aid to not use  the amplification mode anymore butto  directly connect with a sound source.

The technology behind is relatively simple: a hearing-aid loop is like a wireless network for hearing aids. An inductive wire loop sends sound signals from a microphone, speaker or public address system directly to hearing aids or implants set up in telecoil mode. The telecoil works as an antenna, relaying sounds directly into the ear, without background noise.

As a responsible and sustainable business, ATR is committed to exploring any solutions which can make the ATR flying experience more inclusive, and stress-free for all travelers. As the first standalone hearing-aid loop concept in commercial aviation, AudioBack® can massively enhance safety, comfort and well-being for passengers with hearing aids or implants. Thanks to this simple device, integrated into a standalone headrest, they can now hear all in-flight announcements and feel as cared for as any other passengers.

To learn more about AudioBack®, watch our video: