What is a Telecoil?
A telecoil is a built-in antenna in many hearing aids and cochlear implants that helps users hear in buildings and rooms with hearing loops. It is made of copper and can be turned on and off as needed.
What is a Hearing Loop?
A hearing loop is an assistive listening system that wirelessly sends sound via electromagnetic waves to telecoils. They are typically found in public spaces like performance venues, airports, places of worship or courtrooms. If a person doesn’t have a telecoil, these public places can often provide headphones equipped with a telecoil receiver.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, hearing loops are a great way to ensure venues are accessible for the hard of hearing, not only for their ease of use, but also because the telecoil is recognized and utilized by hearing aid wearers internationally. Some people even put hearing loops in their homes to better hear the television or radio, although our TV adapter and Bluetooth® technology connectivity to your phone mean a home loop isn’t a necessity.
How to use a telecoil
All you have to do to use your telecoil is turn it on in a public place with a hearing loop. Look for signs with this icon on them:
You can usually turn on the telecoil with a button press or through the app on your phone that controls your hearing device. Just like magic, the PA system in the building you’re in will send sound directly into your ears, customized to your audiogram and hearing needs. If you’re listening to a play or longer speech, you can often turn off the external microphone on your device to minimize background noise.
No telecoil? Assistive listening headphones can help
Some modern hearing aids have forgone the telecoil in favor of extremely small size and discreetness. In this case, you can ask the venue you are at for a headphone set. Typically, these headphones can be put right over your in-the-canal or behind-the-ear aids and provide a similar (albeit less discreet) assistive listening option. You can also ask for these headphones if you don’t have hearing aids yet and they will provide some improved sound for you (although it won’t be customized to your specific hearing loss needs the way a hearing aid telecoil or headphones over aids are).
It is often best if you’re going to need these headphones to call the venue ahead of time so they can have them ready for use.
What about Bluetooth®?
Bluetooth® technology in hearing aids is an advancement that truly brings these devices into today’s modern lifestyle like never before. You can stream music and videos from your smartphone straight to your ears without headphones or any other device. But Bluetooth® has its limits – it cannot (yet) connect to public systems and it cannot receive the electromagnetic signal from a hearing loop system, so it does not replace a telecoil in places that are looped.
Does HearingLife have telecoil hearing aids?
HearingLife carries a variety of hearing devices, including many with a telecoil option, such as Oticon miniRITE R, miniRITE T, BTE styles and select custom in-the-ear hearing aids. Ask your hearing professional about your telecoil options at your next HearingLife appointment.
If you’re still struggling to hear in your favorite performance venue, don’t miss out on another performance, come visit your local HearingLife today for a complimentary hearing assessment and find out what our professionally-fit hearing devices can do for you!
If you would like to learn more about hearing loops and how to get one installed in your home, place of worship or another public venue, check out hearingloop.org.