Contacta appoints new South African distributor to meet growing demand

Contacta appoints new South African distributor to meet growing demand

Contacta Systems, UK leaders in assistive listening technology, have appointed Prosound Pty as their South African distributor to help manage and drive growing demand for their products in the region.

With a near 50-year history in the supply, design and integration of AV technology, Johannesburg-based Prosound Pty will supply integrators, installers and venues across the country, and parts of central Africa, with Contacta’s hearing loops, RF, IR and window intercom systems.

Prosound Pty is the oldest audio specialist in the region. Founded in 1973 to support the live events scene, they were South Africa’s first dedicated audio specialists. They supplied AV equipment to the country’s biggest events, including Nelson Mandela’s homecoming and the 2010 World Cup, and now focus solely on the installation of high-quality audio, AV, lighting and staging systems. Their distribution arm, ApexPro, will stock Contacta products and support sales to the channel throughout the region.

Prosound Pty Technical Director, Mark Malherbe, said:
“We are excited to have established this partnership with Contacta. Assistive listening technology is a new market for us and it was important that we enter into it with a quality brand in terms of both product and support.
“Interest in assistive listening systems in this region is growing and this relationship gives us a real opportunity to spearhead accessibility for people with hearing loss.”

Contacta has a 52-year history in the assistive hearing sector. The Kent-based company design, manufacture, supply and install a unique range of high-quality British-made products worldwide.

Head of Business Development at Contacta, Ran Meyrav, said, “The history and experience Mark and his team have behind them make Prosound Pty the perfect choice for us. As companies, we are both focused on the experience for the end-user and ensuring that installations give them the very best listening experience.

“Through ApexPro, we are hoping to gain ideal access into this market. We know the demand is there and will now be able to reach out to it.

“It will be hugely beneficial to have a distributor on the ground and we look forward to a successful relationship.”

Contacta: New products on show at ISE 2023

Contacta: New products on show at ISE 2023

Contacta make a return to Integrated Systems Europe in 2023, the premier exhibition for AV and systems integration worldwide.

Ran Meyrav, James Ferrett and David Nordberg will be at booth 7B350 to talk visitors through our assistive listening product range, our window intercom systems and answer questions on installation.

A must-see on the booth will be our brand new VLD1 vehicle loop driver, a design created in response to demand from bus and coach operators needing to comply with new accessibility standards.

With challenging operation conditions in these vehicles, the VLD1 and its unique set-up software needed thoughtful design to mitigate signal loss.  It has undergone rigorous vibration and temperature testing to make sure it complies with the relevant standards for electronic products installed in such a challenging environment.

ISE 2023, which takes place 31 January – 3 February 2023 in Barcelona and brings together more than 700 exhibitors from the global AV and systems integration industry, will also be the first opportunity customers will have had to get close-up to our V22 large area loop driver.

Launched in 2022, the V22 is the latest addition to our flagship V Series range and is a powerful constant current, single output driver packed with new additional features.  It’s designed for loop systems in medium to large venues for perimeter and figure-eight loop layouts.

New to visitors will also be our STS-K009IP rated window intercom call systems as well as a brand-new IP rated screen-mounted system.

This IP55 range has been designed for outdoor environments; think delivery points, ski resorts or security checkpoints.  The IP rating means it protects against water, dust and dirt ingress.

Visitors can get hands on at booth 7B350 this year too.  As well as being able to experience a live demo of our market-leading window intercom systems, there will be the chance to design a large area hearing loop system to the IEC60118-4 standard on Contacta’s all-new and improved Loop Design 3D Visualiser.

Contacta security product range on show at the Security Event 2023

Contacta security product range on show at the Security Event 2023

Contacta’s range of security products will be on show at the Security Event 2023, which takes place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham in April.

It’s the first time we will have exhibited at the show, which runs from the 25th – the 27th April. While we’re primarily known for our assistive listening systems, the two come together to keep staff safe in banks and businesses up and down the high street.

Our Window Intercom Systems

Our window intercom systems have been providing clear communication between customers and staff at secure windows for decades, as they’ve been a feature of banks, Post Office counters, health care settings, petrol filling stations and ticket offices. The need for clear communication is a necessity and one that has been around long before the outbreak of COVID, which did see a peak in the installation of protective screens and barriers. Our expertise ensures that we can specify, supply, install and maintain our systems to meet all our clients requirements.

Our range of systems can be fitted to toughened glass, and there are microphone and speaker options that are vandal-proof to prevent unnecessary repairs or replacements.

Contacta’s window intercoms also come with integrated hearing loops for customers who use a hearing aid or cochlear implant, ensuring that our systems are fully inclusive for hearing-impaired users.

We offer a complete solution for secure counters, with our pass-through trays having window intercoms built in. Integrated solutions not only make for faster installations but they also keep counters looking tidy and clutter-free.
New to the Show will be our range of intercoms for outdoor settings; think delivery points or security barriers. The STS-K009 has an IP55 rating which ensures water and dirt are kept out while allowing clear communication.

Technical Sales Manager, Dean Corrigan, and Head of Sales, Shelley Rolfe, will be on hand to talk you through our products for storing and transferring documents and cash including our letter box and bulk transfer units and secure pedestal options.

Locating the loops – my journey into sound

Locating the loops – my journey into sound

Contacta’s Market Development Director, Andrew Thomas’s visit to Europe, highlighted that loops are – or should be – at many venues on the way.

I recently travelled to the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People’s World Congress in Budapest to speak about assistive listening technology and to meet with colleagues in the industry.

My journey from home in Kent to the Hungarian capital made me realise just how many locations en route hearing loops were present in, making the trip accessible to people with hearing loss.

From train to plane

The first stop on my journey was the local train station. Ticket offices at many stations have long had window intercom systems to help passengers hear through the safety screens. Many now also have hearing loops which allow information to be clearly heard above what is often a great deal of background noise.

The lift I took up to the platform had an intercom system, and this featured a hearing loop, a key safety feature for those with hearing loss.

On-board announcements can be hard to hear for every passenger so hearing aid users may have an advantage if there is a working hearing loop on their train service. The prevalence of loops is definitely growing on major routes, particularly if operators have introduced new rolling stock.

My local service brought me into London where I took a taxi to Paddington station for the Heathrow Express. More than 20 years ago, I was responsible for getting the very first hearing loops into the new TX1 black cabs in the capital. Many passengers and drivers benefit from them today as they’ve become more widespread.

If I’d have taken the Underground, help points on the platforms feature loops so people needing additional information or support can communicate clearly with staff.

The ticket office at Paddington has a hearing loop but unfortunately a key communication point – the reception area – in a busy station with poor acoustics, does not and neither does the left luggage office.

With the advent of COVID and safety screens, check-in desks at the airport now feature window intercom systems. These may have in-built hearing loops. And it’s not just check-in desks – oversize baggage and other customer help points now feature them too.

At Heathrow, I also found a loop at the bureau de change and at the self-service till in the mini supermarket.

Since the revision of the BS 8300 standard, which details the required design of buildings for meeting the needs of disabled people, the prevalence of loops is growing in the UK as venues like airports recognise the need to offer an inclusive service.

This includes loops in their tannoy systems which are not only vital for people hearing their gate announcement, but also their safety.

To the venue

Hearing loops are recognised the world over and they’re gradually becoming more common on the continent. The revision of BS 8300 has been a springboard for change across Europe. Introduced in 2021, EN17210 is a directive from the European Union that states all publicly-funded developments must provide accessibility. And that includes assistive listening systems for people with hearing loss.

Installation and performance standards for loops are universal across the EU and no matter where you’re from, a press of a button on the hearing aid should give access to clear sound.

Inspired by the Queen

My tracking of hearing loops at the locations on my journey was prompted by the content of my presentation, some of which focused on the accessibility of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral service.

A loop was provided for mourners in Westminster Abbey, public viewing areas such as in St James’ Park were looped and that then brought to mind the many journeys made to London to be part of the event and the various points people with hearing loss would need technology to get clear information.

It was quite arresting to think of so many situations in which sound could be lost, information misheard and people endangered because of a lack of accessibility.

My presentation at the Congress was part of a discussion on emerging technologies such as Bluetooth. Change is coming but, while the majority of users rely on NHS hearing aids, this will take many years to transition. And for now, loops are an essential feature of the daily journeys of millions of people.

World Congress stresses continued use of hearing loops

World Congress stresses continued use of hearing loops

While Bluetooth is being developed as an assistive technology for those with hearing loss, the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) has stressed that hearings loops, telecoils, RF and IR systems should continue to be used.

 In a statement following its World Congress in Budapest last week, IFHOH highlighted that ‘Auracast’ is not yet available for people with hearing loss, and won’t be for some time.  In the interim, it said telecoils should still be included in hearing aids and current assistive listening systems should still be installed “for the foreseeable future”.

 It also recommended training for audiologists and other hearing health professionals in hearing loops, telecoils and other existing technologies to make sure people can enjoy the benefits of clear sound now.

“We welcome this statement from IFHOH.  It echoes our viewpoint that hearing loops are, and continue to be, life-changing technology for people with hearing loss.”

 Contacta’s Head of Business Development, Ran Meyrav,

 “While Auracast will undoubtedly have much to offer, its abilities are still largely untested and it will take some time yet for it to be widely available, and in enough settings, to benefit the majority of people with hearing loss.

 “Because hearing aids in the UK are issued, largely, by the NHS, replacements are not received for several years.  Add to this to the significant investment people make in purchasing hearing aids privately, and the costs involved in purchasing new Auracast compatible hearing aids and smartphones, and you have several reasons why Bluetooth Auracast technology won’t be adopted for some time.

 “Hearing loops may be ‘old’ technology but that is not the same as ‘outdated’ and we are glad that IFHOH has made this so clear.”