Forget the iPad–your hearing aid may be all you need to plug in. Hearing aids have come a long way since the ear trumpet, and one of the best little accessories you can now have is the hearing aid telecoil. Also known as a t-coil, this compact wire coil allows your hearing aid to link up with hearing loops, sound systems or telephones and become a mini speaker right in your ear. Here is a basic guide to this handy hearing aid fixture, the telecoil.
A basic design for hearing aids
A hearing aid telecoil is a simply small wire wrapped around a metal core. Imagine wrapping a string around your pinky finger, and you get an idea of the simplicity of this design. The simple (but important) design provides a simple (but important) function. A telecoil essentially functions as a wireless antenna inside your ear. These tiny wires pick up magnetic signals, which are emitted by hearing aid compatible (HAC) telephones and sound systems.
Hearing aid telecoils: an antenna in your ears
Telecoils work very much like technology you already use. To better visualize the function of a telecoil, let’s use the analogy of a radio antenna. Radio towers emit soundwaves to antennas within a particular area. This is why you might access a radio station in your own town, but not in the neighboring town. The radio tower has essentially created a circuit, and you join that circuit by raising your antenna and tuning into the system. Telecoils function a lot like radio antennas. A hearing aid compatible sound system sends out sound waves like a radio station, and your telecoil allows you to tune in.
Telecoils, hearing aids and telephones
Bringing a regular hearing aid close to a telephone receiver may cause an obnoxious squealing or hearing aid whistling, also known as hearing aid feedback. The result of this proximity is similar to the feedback that results when two stage microphones come too closely together. The telecoil on the other hand allows you to shut off your hearing aid microphone and avoid hearing aid whistling, while still picking up the electromagnetic sound waves from the phone. This will typically cut down, if not completely eliminate, heaing aid feedback.
In addition to telephones, telecoils can be used with a number of different sound systems. Movie theatres, music halls, places of worship and sports auditoriums often have assisted listening systems that can transmit sound right to your telecoil. Places that support telecoils are usually designated with the following symbol.
Keep in mind though that a bit of interference/background noise (usually a humming sound) can result from certain sources of magnetic signals, like fluorescent lights and television screens. However modern telecoil technology can largely mitigate these interferences, according to the The Hearing Journal.
Hearing aid choices: To telecoil or not to telecoil?
Over 60 percent of hearing aids come with telecoils, reports Scientific American. Nonetheless, the right hearing aid for you is always a completely personal choice. Hearing aid telecoil or not, Audicus Hearing Aids has a great selection to help you find your ideal fit.
Sources: Audicus Hearing Aids, Scientific American, The Hearing Journal