What is a telecoil and what does it do? Maybe the hearing aid you are wearing has one or perhaps you’ve been looking for a new hearing aid and are wondering about this feature. As its name suggests, a telecoil is a tiny coil of wire. It sounds simplistic, but it greatly enhances the functionality of your hearing aid. Keep reading to get a solid idea of what this simple gadget can do for you.
Telecoils inside hearing aids detect magnetism. Unlike standard microphones and amplifiers, which amplify all sounds they encounter, a telecoil will only transmit sounds that are created magnetically. The original focus for this technology was to improve listening during telephone conversations. Since older telephones used magnets in their speakers, telecoil devices could provide a clear transmission of a phone conversation. Contemporary telephone technology has eliminated these magnets, but many phones will include electronics which allow them to communicate with telecoil devices.
The telecoil feature isn’t just useful for telephones. They are often used as part of Assistive Listening Systems in movie theaters, stadiums and auditoriums. The venue might loan you a headset or a receiver that will assist your hearing aid in detecting these signals. Because these magnetic sounds are often higher quality than what you can hear acoustically, you may find that a telecoil can significantly enhance your enjoyment of an event.
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 microphone modes using a physical switch on the device. Newer models allow the wearer to alternate 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 fluorescent lights in the room or equipment such as CRT monitors. It will sound like buzzing which becomes louder as you get closer to the origin of the interference.
The benefits of a telecoil-equipped hearing aid vastly outweigh the costs. You’ll find that the price of a telecoil-enabled hearing aid is only somewhat higher and definitely worth the additional capabilities.