After Kevin Brown’s mother began to lose her hearing, him and his wife, Callie, invested their time into creating a business to benefit the hard-of-hearing community in 2014.
Their Midlothian-based business, Southern Star Technology, installs magnetic wire in a room where induction allows the telecoil in a hearing aid to pick up direct sound coming from a microphone. They were also recently featured in Dallas Voyage magazine for their ingenuity.
“Basically it’s a loop of wire that’s tied to a driver, which in turn is tied to the sound system or a microphone, just the sound source,” Kevin explained. “You have to have a sound source that’s fed into the loop driver, then the driver feeds the loop.”
The loops can be installed on the floor, under the ground, on the ceiling, basically anywhere. They also have a counter loops and portable loops. This is ideal for communication with a person at a counter, say at a ticket booth, picking up a prescription or at an airport counter. They have even come out with ceiling tiles, rugs, chair pads and tables that have loops in them.
Southern Star Technology is one of two installers in North Texas, with the majority of their work completed in Tarrant and Dallas County and now Louisiana. They mentioned that they’ve never installed loops in Ellis County but would love to serve the local hearing-impaired community.
When Kevin’s mother lost her hearing in 2009, they started embedding themselves in the hearing impaired community, joining the Hearing Loss Association of America’s (HLAA) North Texas chapter in Ft. Worth.
During one of the HLAA meetings, the room was looped with the magnetic wiring, creating a better communication experience for the members. This was the first time the Brown’s were introduced to this concept.
“It’s amazing to see people who have experienced it for the first time,” Callie said. “Every time we install one in a church we go to the Sunday morning service to make sure everything is okay and talk to the people, and that’s when we get the feeling that this is what we were meant to do.”
Callie told a story of how one man was deeply impacted by his church being looped. A man was able to bow his head for the first time in church to pray instead of having to read the lips of the pastor since the message was being directly looped to his hearing aid.
“It will break your heart in a good way,” Callie said.
Looping is ideal for churches, movie theaters, senior centers — really anywhere there’s a public address system. Callie explained looping allows ambient noises that can be distracting go away and allows a person to be able to focus their hearing on what’s being spoken into the microphone.
“When you have a hearing aid, what they tell me is you can hear people wrestling with papers because you’ve got a small area that — you turn it [hearing aid] up and all those noises go up. But with a hearing loop all that’s diminished,” Callie explained.
Their company offers other products to assist hearing like inferred (IR), radio frequency (RF) and the magnetic induction (looping). Kevin explained what sets the looping apart from the IR and RF is that “Hearing loops are the only one that doesn’t require the user to wear an external device.”
Kevin said he tries his best to sell the looping over the other products because, for the user, the looping method brings comfort and normalcy.
The Browns are heavily involved with the HLAA and give five percent of their revenue back to the organization.
They said their dream would be to place the counter loops at pharmacies and local businesses in their own backyard in Midlothian.