Using the T-coil and Neck Loops With Your Hearing Aid
In the last blog, I talked about t-coils and how they can increase the functionality of your hearing aid or cochlear implant. T-coils are like wireless antennas. They pick up magnetic signals transmitted from a sound source and then deliver that sound directly to your hearing aid. T-coils are easy to use – you activate them by pressing a button or switch on your hearing aid.
Although t-coils were originally used to enhance the magnetic signal from a telephone handset, which allowed a hearing aid user to hear better on the telephone, there are a couple of other ways to use t-coils. Today I’ll explain the benefits of using a neck loop with a t-coil.
A neck loop is just a loop of wire worn (very loosely) around the neck and connected to a sound source. The neck loop changes the incoming sound signal to a magnetic signal which is then transmitted through the wire loop. The t-coil in the hearing aid picks up the magnetic signal from the neck loop and then processes the sound through the hearing aid. A basic neck loop just takes the place of a “headset” for those who have t-coil equipped hearing aids. A neck loop can be plugged into any device (sound source) that can be used with a headset such as an iPod or mp3 player, headphone connection at the gym, TV or stereo, personal amplifier, computer, cell phones, and land line telephones. The sound from the connected device is relayed from the neck loop to the t-coil in the hearing aid, working just like a headset.
Neck loops also come in amplified versions. This type of neck loop includes a volume control and a microphone. This allows for additional volume control adjustment independent from the volume control on the device. The microphone on the loop replaces the mouthpiece of the telephone which enables hands free conversation. So it’s very easy to have a two-way conversation – both speaking and listening – on the telephone using this type of neck loop. Amplified neck loops still function like headsets and can be plugged into any device with a sound source.
If you don’t like the idea of being hard-wired into your device, you can also get a Bluetooth version of a neck loop where the Bluetooth signal from the sound source is received by the neck loop and then transmitted to the t-coil equipped hearing aid. The sound from a Bluetooth enabled device, like your cell phone or iPod, will be received by the neck loop and transmitted to the hearing aids via the t-coil without any wire connecting the neck loop to the sound source.
Why should you consider trying a neck loop? There are many advantages to using neck loops with your t-coil equipped hearing aids. First, sound from the neck loop is delivered directly into your hearing aid which has been programmed for your individual hearing loss – the sound has been shaped to match your hearing ability. If you have the t-coil feature enabled in both of your hearing aids, then you will hear the delivered sound in both ears which can improve speech understanding. Using neck loops can also significantly reduce the amount of background noise typically picked up in a listening environment. Since neck loops stay with the user, they can be connected to various devices at any time or place. Plus, neck loops are affordable. The cost ranges from about $50.00 for a basic non-amplified model to about $350.00 for a Bluetooth model.
Next blog, I’ll talk about using neck loops with the TV, personal listening systems, and FM systems. Until then, talk to your audiologist about hearing better with a neck loop!