With all the talk about Made for iPhone and Bluetooth hearing aids, telecoils seem to be a thing of the past. But this invention created in the 1930s is very useful in a variety of different public settings within the city of New York.
Featured in many hearing aids and cochlear implants, a telecoil (t-coil) is a copper magnetic coil that receives and improves the speech signal from hearing assistive technology or landline telephones. The purpose of the t-coil setting is to increase the volume of the sound source by eliminating most of the background noise. Focused on improving communication and speech clarity, telecoils provide appropriate benefit when the universal settings of hearing aids are not able to do so.
Once the T-setting is programmed, the setting can be manually turned on in your hearing aids. Many public places such as theaters, public transportation, places of worships, auditoriums and museums have hearing loops installed to be used at your discretion. Directly connected to a sound system, hearing loops transmit sound electromagnetically to the telecoil. By switching to your T-setting and turning the telecoil on, the sound will automatically be sent directly to your hearing aids.
When purchasing a hearing aid, the use of telecoils should be discussed with your audiologist. Not all hearing aids come with a t-coil. If you prefer smaller hearing aids or do not want to be bothered by multiple programs than having a t-coil may not be the best option for you. That said, when making this decision, it is important to determine how often you visit facilities that have hearing loops installed. To search for a hearing loop nearest you, download the app LoopFinder or simply check out the most recent list of hearing loops that was released by the Hearing Loss Association of America in June 2016.
Although Bluetooth hearing aids may have outdated the use of t-coils and phones, the use of hearing loops and FM systems can still significantly improve communication for those with a hearing impairment. It is way too often that when people purchase hearing aids they are not informed as to whether a telecoil is installed in their devices. However, to facilitate speech understanding in one of the noisiest cities in the world, your telecoil may just be what you are looking for.