Publix stores receiving hearing-aid technology

Publix stores receiving hearing-aid technology

Publix Supermarkets is equipping three Southwest Florida stores — one on Longboat Key and two in Venice — with new technology that will help customers with hearing loss to better navigate its aisles.

After two years of testing, Publix is introducing “hearing loops” into some of its stores. The devices use electromagnetic signals to help those with hearing aids or cochlear implants to better perceive sound.

The Longboat and Venice stores added hearing loops this month.

“If you can imagine having a conversation in a grocery store, you know there’s always ambient noise around. That’s a huge distraction for people with hearing loss,” Publix spokesman Brian West said. “This system actually drowns out that ambient noise so customers can better hear employees when they’re checking out at the pharmacy, at a register or at our customer-service desk.”

The Lakeland-based grocery chain installed hearing loops in four key areas in the stores: pharmacy drop off, pharmacy pick up, the customer-service desk and a check-out register.

“For a customer coming into a store, the process is almost seamless,” West said. “The majority of hearing-aid systems automatically integrates with the system, and we’ve put them in places where we think shoppers will get the most use of out of it.”

Publix has been installing hearing loops in Florida supermarkets for years, West said.

Last year, a Lakewood Ranch resident and local members of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the Florida Coordinating Council for Deaf and Hard of Hearing were able to convince the Florida Supreme Court to install hearing loops in its chambers.

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By Justine Griffin

Published: Monday, March 30, 2015 at 8:46 p.m.