Do you know if you have a t-coil in your hearing aid? In the United States, 65% of all hearing aids dispensed have telecoils – or t-coils. A telecoil can increase the functionality of your hearing aid or cochlear implant with little cost or effort on your part.
A t-coil is a small copper wire wrapped around a metal rod which is built into most hearing aids and all cochlear implants. T-coils receive magnetic signals transmitted from a sound source. Those signals from the t-coil are then processed through the hearing aid which has been programmed to correct for the individual’s hearing loss. So…a telecoil is like a wireless antenna coupled to a sound source that delivers a customized sound directly to the hearing aid user.
When do you use a t-coil? T-coils were originally used to enhance the magnetic signal from a telephone handset so a hearing aid user could hear better on the telephone. In fact, if you see a phone advertised as “hearing aid compatible”, it means the phone works with a t-coil equipped hearing aid. T-coils can also be used with your TV at home, MP3 players, or computers. It’s becoming more common to use t-coils with hearing assistive technology that may be found in churches, meeting rooms, theaters, airports, tour buses, and other places. This kind of hearing assistive technology is called a hearing loop and it can make a huge difference in how well you understand speech from a distance, when background noise is present, or in a room with poor acoustics. More to come on hearing loops in the next blog – it’s an important topic!
T-coils are standard in most behind-the-ear hearing aids and don’t add anything to the cost of the aid. If space allows, t-coils can be added to many in-the-ear type hearing aids. T-coils are activated by pressing a button or switch on your hearing aid – very simple! Whether you currently wear hearing aids or are just now considering your first set of aids, be sure to have your audiologist explain the benefits of t-coils.