Hearing Aid Telecoils Explained

One of the biggest obstacles a hard of hearing person will face is hearing people clearly on the phone. In the past few years there have been dozens of new wireless hearing aids introduced which help tackle this problem via bluetooth and other technologies. These technologies are awesome and can be very helpful for folks, but this post will focus on one of the oldest solutions to helping folks hear better on the phone, and that is with hearing aid telecoils. The great thing about telecoils is they are not only helpful for hearing on the phone better, but can actually be utilized in a lot of different settings to hear many things better.

What is a telecoil?

A telecoil is basically just a small piece of coil wire inside of a hearing aid, whose sole purpose is to pick up magnetic signals from devices which are “telecoil friendly.” So the microphones on hearing aids pick up all the sound from the environment, whereas the telecoil will only pick up the magnetic signals. This magnetic signal is created and sent via devices which are “hearing aid compatible” or “telecoil compatible.” As soon as the magnetic signal starts being sent to the hearing aid, the hearing aid’s microphones are turned off, so you can get a clear sound from the hearing aid compatible phone or other assistive listening device.

How do telecoils work with hearing aids?

You may be familiar with hearing aid “programs.” Most hearing aids use programs to make the hearing aids perform differently in every environment. For example, if you get into a place with a lot of background noise, you may push a button on the hearing aid which switches the program and reduces background noise. In this same manner, hearing aids that have a telecoil can just have that “telecoil memory” switched to or accessed by simply pushing a button on the hearing aid. As soon as that button is pushed, the microphones on that hearing aid (or both hearing aids- depending on how your provider programs them), will turn off so you can get a clear sound direct from the magnetic signal being sent from the phone. Telecoils are usually an “add-on” option on hearing aids, costing a few hundred dollars extra, and can only be added to behind the ear devices and large in the ear devices. Small, custom products will not be able to have a telecoil, as there just isn’t enough room to fit the necessary components.

hearing aid telecoil

“Telecoil-friendly” sign

Where else are telecoils used?

See that image to the left? You’ll often times see these signs in public places like airports and train-stations. Any time this sign is shown, that means the area has been fitted with an induction loop system, which essentially means it is capable of sending those magnetic signals to your hearing aids. A lot of public places do this as a convenience to the hard of hearing, and they are starting to become more popular in churches and school as well. If you wear hearing aids, next time you see one of these signs, switch your hearing aids to the telecoil position, and if sound is being relayed you should hear it coming through very clearly.

For all the benefits of telecoils, there are still some issues with them. For starters, they don’t always work as intended. When a lot of people try to use their hearing aids in telecoil mode with their phones, they do not get a clear sound because the magnetic signal being sent from the phone is not strong enough. When this is the case, an amplified phone should be considered.

If you’re not sure if you’re hearing aids have telecoils, if they are programmed correctly or even set up, contact a hearing provider near you. Many hearing aids today actually come standard with telecoils and they can be activated and set up in a matter of minutes, and you just might get a lot of use out of them.

If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.

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