What is a telecoil and what does it do? Maybe the hearing aid you are wearing has one or perhaps you’ve been thinking about buying a new hearing aid and have seen the term used. This tiny coil of wire might appear simple, but the benefits it can provide to individuals who use it are manifold. Read on to discover more about what a telecoil can do for your hearing.
A hearing aid with a telecoil can pick up on magnetic signals. A telecoil will only transmit magnetically generated sounds, not all sounds the way the traditional microphone and amplifier do. The initial emphasis for this technology was to improve listening during telephone conversations. The speakers in older telephone handsets contained strong magnets. The telecoil-enabled hearing aid could therefore offer a clear transmission of only those sounds coming through the telephone. Newer phones no longer use magnets in this way. However, because the telecoil feature is so popular among hearing aid users, many modern telephones contain supplemental electronics to make them telecoil compatible.
Phones are not the only use for a telecoil. They are often used as part of Assistive Listening Systems in movie theaters, auditoriums and stadiums. You may find that a venue will loan you a headset to assist in transmitting these signals. Users often report that the quality of the sound they pick up magnetically surpasses the sound quality carried through the air acoustically.
The type, size and age of your hearing aid can impact the way you access and use your telecoil. This function is more common in larger hearing aids, including those that rest behind the ear. A small switch that allows the user to swap into telecoil mode is most common on older devices. Digital hearing aids will have programs for telecoil and microphone modes. Alternating between modes might be achieved by pressing a button on the hearing aid or on a remote control.
On rare occasions you might experience some interference when using the telecoil setting on your hearing aid. The interference generally comes from fluorescent lights in the room or equipment such as CRT monitors. It will sound like buzzing which gets louder as you get closer to the origin of the interference.
The chance of interference is a minimal price to pay for the many benefits offered by telecoil-equipped devices. The cost of a telecoil-enabled hearing aid is only somewhat higher and definitely worth the added capabilities.