The hearing aid you are wearing might be equipped with a telecoil, or you may be considering one that has a telecoil built in. As the name suggests, a telecoil is a small coil of wire. It sounds simplistic, but it significantly improves the functionality of your hearing aid. Continue reading to discover more about what a telecoil can do for your ability to hear.
Telecoils inside hearing aids detect magnetism. A telecoil will only transmit magnetically generated sounds, not all sounds the way the traditional microphone and amplifier do. The telecoil was initially introduced to improve listening ability on the telephone. The speakers in older telephone handsets included strong magnets. The telecoil-enabled hearing aid could therefore provide a clear transmission of only those sounds arriving through the telephone. Newer phones do not naturally create these signals, but many are equipped with additional electronics that make them telecoil compatible.
Telephones are not the only use for a telecoil. Many public places, including auditoriums, movie theaters and stadiums, are equipped with Assistive Listening Systems that utilize telecoil technology. You may find that a venue will offer you a headset to assist in transmitting these signals. Users often say that the quality of the sound they pick up magnetically is superior to the sound quality transmitted through the air acoustically.
The size, age and type of your hearing aid can influence the way you access and use your telecoil. Telecoils are more often seen in larger hearing aids, such as those that rest behind the ear. Older hearing aids can be switched between telecoil and microphone modes using a physical switch on the device. Newer hearing aids allow you to change between program modes with the press of a button.
Interference may be an issue when using a telecoil, but it is not common. The interference typically originates from equipment such as CRT monitors or from fluorescent lights in the room. It will sound like buzzing which gets louder as you get closer to the origin of the interference.
The rare interference is the only downside to telecoils. They are really fantastic additions that offer many added benefits. The price of a telecoil-enabled hearing aid is only marginally higher and definitely worth the added functionality.