Contacta hearing loops for 3,000 taxis in Madrid, Spain
Thanks to a significant installation programme by Contacta, three thousand taxis in Madrid, the Spanish capital, are now equipped with hearing loops, making them accessible to individuals with hearing impairments. In 2020, new legislation in Spain mandated that every taxi in the city must be fitted with a loop system. Hearing loop technology was specifically chosen as the most widely accepted and effective solution for users. This advancement ensures inclusivity and equal access for all passengers.
Contacta’s Spanish distributor, Aimas, reached out to Contacta directly to explore potential options. Together, they carefully examined sound sources, passenger positioning within taxis, signage, and other crucial factors. After the initial consultation, Contacta provided Aimas’ installation team with various loop drivers, wires, and microphones to conduct preliminary tests on multiple taxis.
Contacta are experts in equipping vehicles with hearing loops, being the pioneers of installing hearing loops in London’s black cabs back in the 1990s. Over the years, they have gained extensive experience in overcoming the challenges of installing loops in cars.
The first challenge faced was dealing with electromagnetic interference (EMI) and background noise levels caused by the engine, alternator, and the general ambient noise. This was especially difficult while the taxi was in motion.
To find a solution, Aimas’ engineers collaborated with the Tech Design team at Contacta. They analysed the measurements recorded in the taxis and conducted current and voltage calculations. Together, they discovered that a perimeter loop layout in the ceiling above the passenger seats provided the best performance.
Our expert Tech Design team recommended using a vehicle-approved HLD2 driver and a customised loop wire for optimal signal strength, meeting the IEC60118-4 standard. Through rigorous testing, they determined the ideal microphone type and placement to minimise background noise and capture the driver’s voice effectively. To ensure production efficiency, Contacta compiled the chosen components into a kit , so they could be manufactured in the required volumes.
With the system finalised, Aimas obtained certification from the UCA (Unidad de Certificación del Automóvil), specifically the R10 stamp that approves the use of the HLD2 in vehicles across the EU. Installation wass conducted with precision adjustments to ensure each system meets the rigorous IEC standard and delivers clear sound for passengers. Attention to detail was also given to signage as well. Special stickers in Spanish were printed and placed on the side windows of each taxi.
High performing results
“Working with Contacta on this project has meant we have a fantastic result that the client is very happy with,” said Guillermo Chicote from Aimas. “Their experience, plus the range of components available for us to use, made the job much simpler than it could have been with so many factors to consider.”
During a visit to Madrid in November 2023, Contacta engineers tested the loops installed in some of the taxis at the Sociedad Cooperativa Madrileña del Autotaxi (SCAT) premises. They recorded a decibel reading of under 1dB. As the IEC60118-4 standard allows a range of between -3dB and +3dB, this result was excellent, and the sound quality from the loop system was clear and noise-free. The unique design of the loop system in the taxi ceiling delivers the magnetic signal across the taxi, covering the back seat row and the passenger seat as well.
The new law means every new taxi in Madrid is obliged to have a hearing loop installed. So far, around a fifth of the 15,000 taxis in the capital have them in place and Aimas currently supply and fit between 150-200 systems each month. Each taxi in Madrid must be replaced after a maximum of 10 years, therefore Aimas has an ongoing programme of work as new vehicles join the fleet.
The company is currently in discussions with taxi associations in other major cities in Spain, as the legislation of hearing accessibility is being rolled into other municipalities.
“Madrid has very much been a role model,” added Ran Meyrav, Contacta’s Head of New Business Development. “This project is a great example that we hope we will see replicated elsewhere in Spain – and beyond.”