Hearing Loops & Telecoils

October 27, 2022

Hearing Loops & Telecoils

 In recent years, the incorporation of Bluetooth in hearing aids has been a complete game-changer. Not only has direct audio streaming improved the clarity of phone calls and music for hearing aids users, but it also allows persons with hearing loss to pair their devices with a number of assistive listening devices to improve hearing abilities in noisy restaurants and from greater distances. However, with all of the advancements in Bluetooth technology, it is not capable (at the moment) of streaming to a large number of people all at once. This creates a challenge for large public venues like museums, churches, and auditoriums, where those with hearing loss often struggle to understand due to distance and reverberation. The great news is that there is a technology available in select hearing aids that allows hearing aid users to have direct audio streaming to their devices in these difficult listening environments. This technology is called a telecoil. 

A telecoil is a small, copper wire coiled around a metal rod inside of select hearing aids. The telecoil captures electromagnetic waves, which can then be turned into an acoustic signal by your hearing aid. Using a telecoil requires two things: a compatible hearing aid and an installed hearing loop. Here is how it works: 

  • First, keep an eye out. If a public space has a hearing loop installed, you will see a blue sign, as pictured on the right.
  • A hearing loop, also referred to as an induction loop, is a loop of wire installed on the perimeter of a room that produces an electromagnetic signal. 
  • The speaker (i.e. preacher, announcer, actor) talks into a microphone, which will connect to a traditional speaker system and the hearing loop.
  • The hearing loop will convert the speaker’s voice into an electromagnetic signal that is picked up by the telecoil within a compatible hearing aid. 
  • The hearing aid will reproduce the sound coming from the microphone as if the person were right next to you, dramatically improving sound quality and volume. 

To find out is this technology is available in your hearing aids, speak with your audiologist about telecoil technology. You will also want to investigate your area to determine if the places you frequent have this technology available. This is made easier by the use of LoopFinder.com or the Loop Finder app to see telecoil systems available in your area.  Using telecoil technology can significantly improve your experience in these spaces and enhance your ability to participate in your community.

Though this technology is available worldwide and in almost every brand of hearing aid, there are places in the United States where these hearing loops are uncommon or unavailable. Organizations like Loop America are working hard to make this technology more widely available, as it has been proven to drastically improve the quality of sound for hearing aid users.  If you visit a venue where you think telecoil technology could be helpful, be sure to let them know how beneficial a loop system could be for those with hearing loss who attend events.  Loop America also has resources to aid public spaces in acquiring hearing loops and telecoil technology.

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