What’s a telecoil and what does it do? Maybe your current hearing aid has one or perhaps you’ve been looking for a new hearing aid and have seen the term used. This tiny coil of wire may seem simple, but the benefits it can provide to individuals who use it are manifold. This article explains the basics of what a telecoil is and how it operates to improve your hearing ability.
A hearing aid with a telecoil can detect magnetic signals. In contrast to conventional microphones and amplifiers, which amplify all sounds that hit them, a telecoil will only transmit sounds that are generated magnetically. The initial emphasis for this technology was to ease listening during telephone conversations. Since older telephones used magnets in their speakers, telecoil devices could offer a clear transmission of a telephone conversation. Contemporary phone technology has eliminated these magnets, but many telephones will include electronics which allow them to communicate with telecoil devices.
The usage of telecoils began with the telephone, but now they are used in many ways. They are frequently used in conjunction with Assistive Listening Systems in auditoriums, stadiums and movie theaters. 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 clarity of the sound they pick up magnetically surpasses the sound quality transmitted through the air acoustically.
The capabilities of the telecoil inside a hearing aid will vary with the type, age and size of the instrument. Behind-the-ear hearing aids with their larger cases are the most likely to have the telecoil feature included since the additional components require extra space. Older hearing aids can be switched between telecoil and non-telecoil modes using a physical switch on the device. Newer hearing aids are often equipped with program modes, allowing the user to switch on their telecoil by pressing a button on the instrument or on a remote control.
On rare occasions you might encounter some interference when using the telecoil setting on your hearing aid. The interference typically comes 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 possibility of interference is a minimal price to pay for the many advantages offered by telecoil-equipped devices. Telecoils are ordinarily inexpensive and well worth including in any hearing aid.