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The county library system has services available for the hard-of-hearing, deaf and speech-impaired. County residents with mild or moderate hearing loss can borrow devices designed to amplify the sound at small group meetings.

Available at the North County Library branch in Glen Burnie, the device, known as an FM loop, may be used with or without a hearing aid.

"It's very popular. About 12 people have borrowed it since the beginning of April," said librarian Wanda Stokes.

The equipment, which was donated to the library by the Anne Arundel County Office of Disability Services, isn't designed to be used by deaf people.

The system provides good sound quality and is very effective in reaching those with severe hearing loss, since the radio waves can travel through walls.

The FM systems, which consist of a transmitter and receiver, work in the same way as an FM car radio. The transmitter, consisting of a special cord and jack, may be plugged directly into a soundsource, such as a TV jack or sound can enter the transmitter using amicrophone.

Electrical energy is "modulated," or carried on a specific FM radio frequency, through the air until it reaches the receiver, which is also tuned into the same frequency. In turn, the receiver "demodulates" the radio signal and the electrical energy is delivered to the listener's ear through an earphone headset or through the hearing aid.

With a hearing aid, the system can be connected directly to the receiver or used with the receiver-connected neck loop.

The FM loop may be borrowed by any patron at any branch by calling the library in advance of the date the device is needed. The loan period is three days. Instructions are included with the loop and there isno charge for borrowing.

The library system also has two Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD) that provide library service to hearing- and/or speech-impaired persons.

Located at the North County Branch and the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Branch, the TDDs allow people with access to a TDD to dial the library's TDD numbers and ask questions about library services. The staff can answer questions about library material or place reserves. TDDs also are available to the public for personal or business calls. There is no charge for the service.

Information: North County branch, 222-6270 ; Eastport-AnnapolisNeck Branch, 222-1770 or call the local library.

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