What is a T-coil?
A t-coil (telecoil) is a very effective
device that can be part of all but the tiniest hearing
aids (ha's.) It is far more popular in certain other
countries where its beneficial uses are many.
Do all hearing aids have t-coils?
No. Many of our better hearing aids are
made in countries where t-coils are required or are used
heavily by hearing aid wearers. Often such
foreign-manufactured hearing aids will automatically come
with a t-coil. Often in the USA, the uses of t-coils are
not fully explained as an option to the hearing aid
It is believed that only 30% of hearing
aids in the USA have t-coils, and many of the people
owning such hearing aids do not really understand the
benefits/uses of t-coils.
What does a t-coil consist of?
A t-coil is a very small coil of wire
built within a hearing aid that serves as an antenna
which can be activated by the switch on the hearing aid
when it is set in the "T" position.
What is the basic use of the t-coil?
The common use of the t-coil is with
the telephone. Here, the t-switch is turned on allowing
much clearer hearing without feedback. If there is a need
for more volume, then the volume control on the aid can
be turned up and no feedback occurs resulting in a much
clearer amplifiable sound and a more relaxed conversation
by HOH people than is obtainable via telephone
amplification devices. When on, the t-coil shuts out
other background noises. Though some aids allow the
regular mike to be on (or off) when the t-coil is on.
Some of the other uses of the
Frequently, when HOH people have
meetings their room will be "looped." Meaning,
a wire (telephone like) will run around the room, either
at the floor or ceiling, exposed or concealed. The wire
creates a circle or loop that as it joins itself, it has
a short straight piece that has a jack on the end of it
that plugs into an output plug on the PA system box.
When anything is said into the mike, it
sends the sound to the loudspeakers but also through the
"loop," creating a magnetic induction field
within the loop. This means that anyone in the room
within the loop with their T-switch on will be able to
hear very clearly all that is said into the mike. Often,
even better than people who have normal hearing. The
result is called a better Ã¢â�¬Å�signal-to-noise
ratio (a term that can be better explained by
audiologists than here.)
An example of typical use of the
In a bank, etc., the area that the
customer stands in is looped (a hidden wire that runs
around that immediate area of the customer.) The sound of
the teller's voice is picked up by a nearby mike. The HOH
person with the t-coil will switch the HA to t-coil and
be able to hear very clearly what the teller is saying
even though there may be considerable background noise.
What is a "personal neck
As a large loop around the room creates
a proper field (magnetic induction) so can such a
"loop" of wire around a person's neck create a
usable magnetic induction process.
In this case, the jack that is part of
the loop of wire around the neck, is plugged into any
sound source including a TV, radio, cassette player,
transmitter receiver, etc.
As many HOH people are aware, using an
audio headset over their hearing aids to hear, for
example, a portable radio, etc., is not a viable choice.
The headset hurts when it presses into the hearing aid(s)
and/or the sound is not clear, and/or it lacks sufficient
sound volume. By wearing a personal neck loop (worn under
clothing if desired) and plugging it into the sound
source, (radio, TV, etc.) the need for a headset is
eliminated and much better hearing is enjoyed.
Are there other uses of a t-coil and
Absolutely. Some foreign
countries have developed uses for this process that are
too lengthy to describe here. But, for more basic uses;
As sound in public places is
transmitted over loudspeakers, it can also be transmitted
(wirelessly) to small receivers (about the size of a deck
of playing cards) that are loaned to or owned by HOH
people who are seated anywhere in the audience.
Such people can plug their neck loop
into their receiver, and with the t-coil turned on, hear
the sounds that others are hearing via speakers, much
clearer than normal hearing people. This is called a
personal FM system. HA wearers, in trying this with a
t-coil, are amazed at how well they can hear and ask, why didn't we know about this? The answer, we
are just not being educated in the process.
How old is this t-coil process?
It is far from new and has probably
been in use for over 50 years in Europe, particularly the
Scandinavian countries. Every church in Denmark is
looped. The VA, the largest issuer of hearing aids in the
USA and probably in the world, includes t-coils in all
their hearing aids given to vets unless there is an
unusual reason for not doing so. To date, I know of no
teachings by their audiologists on the full use of
t-coils. Something that would benefit not only the vets
but others as well.
Why is the USA so slow in this
The apparent reason that T-coils are
not popular in the USA is that hearing aid wearers don't
usually know of them and those who sell hearing aids do
not educate HOH people of its many benefits.
What does a t-coil cost?
While t-coils do vary in quality and it
is vital to insist on a good quality one, the prices have
no standard. They cost the hearing aid seller about
to and they add little to his costs except an
explanation of it to the buyer so that it would seem that
a fair charge for one would be which should accompany
a clear explanation of the uses of the t-coil.
All public places in the USA are
supposed to provide , hearing access, as per
the American Disability Act. Meaning, public rooms are to
be looped or have F.M. or Infra red systems.
Looped rooms require nothing except a HA with a t-coil.
F.M. and Infra red device rooms do require a receiver.
F.M. systems can transmit directly to the ha's receiver
which would have the neck loop plugged into it. Infra red
systems may only provide headsets which are effective for
mild to moderate losses. Better Infra red systems have a
jack that a neck loop can be plugged into allowing the
use of a neck loop and t-coil equipped hearing aid.
Theaters, etc., are cost
conscious and too often put in low cost systems.
Something that may comply with the ADA law but not to the
satisfaction of many HOH people. That will not change
unless HOH people complain.
The largest users of t-coils;
The Hearing Journal (Sept. 95) reports; 88% of the members of the Self Help for the Hard of
Hearing organization wear hearing aids. Of these, 55% use
their aids when on the telephone and 65% of these have
telecoils in their hearing aids, which represents about
twice the national average for telecoil users. Of those
polled, 55% found whistling or feedback to be their major
The apparent cause of this higher usage
of telecoils is because when these people come together
they help educate each other, and telecoils represent a
serious solution for many.
Secondary would be those who have a
severe or profound hearing loss. Because of the many
problems they have, they are forced to use every resource
available to them. As part of this, they learn of t-coils
and realize they are essential for them to hear where
they otherwise cannot.
People with lesser hearing losses can
also benefit, and the earlier they become accustomed to
t-coil uses the easier it is for them to function in
Direct Audio Input; is a
technique used, I believe, only with over-the-ear hearing
aids that have an appropriate receptacle that permits an
electronic connection. (It does not relate to the use of
a telecoil.) A small boot is snapped on to the base of
the aid, a wire is connected to the boot that can be
connected to sound sources. It provides superior hearing
but the connecting wire attached to the aid is, for some,
a problem. While the percent of such hearing aids is
quite small, the consumers who have been advised of it,
have boots, and are using them, is very small.
For additional information about loop systems see: www.hearingloop.org/