The hearing aid you are wearing may be equipped with a telecoil, or you may be interested in one which has a telecoil built in. This tiny coil of wire may seem simple, but the advantages it can provide to people who use it are quite substantial. Read on to learn more about what a telecoil can do for your ability to hear.
A hearing aid with a telecoil can detect magnetic signals. Unlike standard microphones and amplifiers, which amplify all sounds they encounter, a telecoil will only transmit sounds that are created magnetically. The telecoil was initially introduced to improve listening ability on the phone. Older phones used highly effective magnets in their speakers, generating magnetic signals that telecoil-equipped hearing aids could pick up on. Newer phones do not naturally create these signals, but many are equipped with supplemental electronics that make them telecoil compatible.
The telecoil function isn’t just used in telephones. Theaters, stadiums, auditoriums and train stations often use them as part of their Assistive Listening Systems. These venues will commonly provide headsets or receivers that the hearing impaired can use with their own hearing aids to pick-up the signals. Users often report that the quality of the sound they pick up magnetically surpasses the sound quality carried through the air acoustically.
The capabilities of the telecoil inside a hearing aid will vary with the size, type and age of the instrument. Telecoils are more commonly found in larger hearing aids, such as those that rest behind the ear. Older hearing aids can be switched between telecoil and non-telecoil modes using a physical switch on the device. Digital hearing aids will have programs for telecoil and non-telecoil modes. Alternating between modes can be accomplished by pressing a button on the hearing aid or on a remote.
Interference can be an issue when using a telecoil, but it is not common. You may experience a buzzing sound that gets louder the closer you get to a CRT computer monitor, old fluorescent light, or another cause of interference.
The occasional interference is the only disadvantage to telecoils. They are really fantastic additions that offer many added benefits. This technology is a low cost way to enhance the abilities of your hearing aid.