What is a telecoil and what can it do? Maybe your current hearing aid has one or maybe you’ve been looking for a new hearing aid and are wondering about this feature. This tiny coil of wire might appear simple, but the benefits it can provide to people who use it are quite substantial. Read on to get a solid idea of what this simple device can offer you.
Telecoils are designed to pick up on magnetic signals. In contrast to conventional microphones and amplifiers, which amplify all sounds they encounter, a telecoil will only transmit sounds that are created magnetically. The telecoil was initially introduced to improve listening ability on the phone. The speakers in older telephone handsets included powerful magnets. The telecoil-enabled hearing aid could therefore offer a clear transmission of only those sounds coming through the telephone. Modern phones no longer use magnets in this way. But, because the telecoil function is so popular among hearing aid users, many modern telephones contain additional electronics to make them telecoil compatible.
The telecoil function isn’t just useful for telephones. Theaters, train stations, stadiums and auditoriums often use them within their Assistive Listening Systems. These venues will commonly provide headsets or receivers that the hearing impaired can use with their own hearing aids to pick up the signals. In some cases the magnetic sounds you receive will be a higher quality than what you could experience acoustically.
The abilities of the telecoil inside a hearing aid will vary with the size, age and type of the instrument. The telecoil 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 hearing aids. Digital hearing aids will have programs for telecoil and microphone modes. Switching between modes can be accomplished by pressing a button on the hearing aid or on a remote control.
Interference can be an issue when using a telecoil, but it is not common. You may experience a buzzing sound that gets louder the closer you get to an older fluorescent light, a CRT computer monitor, or another cause of 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 definitely worth including in any hearing device.