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What is a telecoil and what can it do? Perhaps the hearing aid you are wearing has one or perhaps you’ve been looking for a new hearing aid and have seen the term used. A telecoil is a tiny coil of wire that offers a number of benefits. This article will explain the fundamentals of what a telecoil is and how it operates to improve your hearing ability.

A hearing aid with a telecoil can detect magnetic signals. A telecoil will only transmit magnetically created sounds, not all sounds the way the conventional microphone and amplifier do. The original focus for this technology was to improve listening during telephone conversations. Since older phones used magnets in their speakers, telecoil devices could provide a clear transmission of a telephone conversation. More recent phones no longer use magnets in this way. But, because the telecoil function is so popular among hearing aid users, many contemporary telephones contain supplemental electronics to make them telecoil compatible.

Telephones aren’t the sole use for a telecoil. Many public sites, including stadiums, movie theaters and auditoriums, are equipped with Assistive Listening Systems that utilize telecoil technology. These venues will commonly provide headsets or receivers that the hearing impaired can use with their own hearing aids to pick-up the signals. Users often say that the clarity of the sound they pick up magnetically surpasses the sound quality carried through the air acoustically.

The capabilities of the telecoil inside a hearing aid will vary with the size, age and type of the instrument. Behind-the-ear hearing aids with their larger cases are the most likely to have the telecoil feature included since the additional technology require some additional space. In older devices, a tiny switch is used to manually change between microphone to telecoil mode. Digital hearing aids will have programs for telecoil and non-telecoil modes. Alternating between modes can be achieved by pressing a button on the hearing aid or on a remote.

Interference can be an issue when using a telecoil, but it is not common. The interference typically comes from fluorescent lights in the room or equipment such as CRT monitors. It will sound like buzzing which becomes louder as you get closer to the source of the interference.

The occasional interference is the only downside to telecoils. They are really fantastic upgrades that offer many added benefits. You’ll find that the price of a telecoil-enabled hearing aid is only marginally higher and well worth the additional capabilities.

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