Age-related hearing loss: why it matters 

  • Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss (source).
  • Nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing (source).
  • Age-related hearing loss is gradual and may go unnoticed (source). 
  • Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them (source).
  • Age-related hearing loss is reported to be a source of loneliness, isolation, and decline in social activities, as well as communication disorders and dissatisfaction with family life (source). 

Hearing accessibility in OLLI classrooms

With hearing loss so common, we strive to make our classrooms accessible. All of our faculty are asked to wear microphones, and we encourage students to let faculty members know if their speaking style presents difficulties. In addition, most of our classrooms have assistive listening options:

  • Freight and Salvage: hearing loop system that transmits directly to hearing aids with a t-coil; t-coil wearers should sit within the looped area of the auditorium (view seat map). Assistive listening devices also available on request.
  • University Hall 150: assistive listening devices available on request.
  • University Hall 41B: hearing loop system transmits directly to hearing aids with a t-coil.
  • University Hall 41C: speakers use a microphone. 
  • Lafayette Library and Learning Center: assistive listening devices available on request. 
  • Magnes: speakers use a microphone. 
  • Read an OLLI member’s perspective on hearing in our classrooms from our August 2016 OLLI Outlook . 


Fact sheet and hearing questionnaire

  • Age-Related Hearing Loss fact sheet from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
  • This questionnaire from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Hearing Disorders can help determine whether further hearing tests are needed. 
  • If you have questions about your hearing, please consult your doctor. 

Research overviews

Hearing loops and t-coils

Hearing loop systems transmit sound directly from a microphone into the telecoil (t-coil) in a hearing aid, bridging the distance between speaker and listener. They are increasingly common in lecture halls and other public spaces. This video from the Hearing Loss Association of America provides an overview:

Hearing Loops are the preferred assistive listening technology for people with hearing loss.

Telecoils (t-coils) are built into most hearing aids currently on the market. If you consult with an audiologist, be sure to ask about t-coils. Read more about hearing loops and t-coils from the Hearing Loss Association of America. 

Personal sound amplifiers

Personal sound amplifiers are not a substitute for hearing aids, but they can be useful in settings like a noisy restaurant. In classrooms or lecture halls, other assistive listening devices are usually more helpful.