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Telecoil Hearing Aids - Why are digital hearing aid telecoils important for some peeople?

Kimberley Bradshaw - Head of Marketing
Written By:
Kimberley Bradshaw

Head of Customer Content Experience

Kimberley Bradshaw - Head of Marketing
Medically Reviewed By:
Kimberley Bradshaw

Head of Customer Content Experience

Updated: 3rd January 2024
Telecoil Hearing Aids

Telecoil Hearing Aids (T coil)

What are telecoil hearing aids and why are they important?

 

Telecoil hearing aids

Although hearing aids are instrumental in helping people hear better, relying on the device’s in-built microphones is not the best option for every occasion. The two million people in the UK who wear hearing aids can still face challenges in understanding speech in public places. Let’s take a visit to a church as an example.

A minister’s sermon will likely sound muddled for a hearing aid wearer because a cavernous church will easily reverberate and mix speech sounds with the surrounding background noise, obscuring the minister’s words.

What if I told you that a decades-old, widely available technology could remove all the background noise from the church and make the words of the minister immediately clearer? This is what’s possible with a telecoil.

 

Telecoils in hearing aids - What are they and what do they do?

What is a telecoil hearing aid?  Telecoil-equipped hearing aids include a small coil that is inside many hearing aids. It is similar to an antenna that picks up magnetic signals and sends them as audio to your hearing aids. Typically, a hearing aid picks up sound using a microphone and then amplifies it. A telecoil works differently - with this feature, the hearing aid "hears" a magnetic pulse and then amplifies that sound signal.

 

What is a loop system?

In order to be able to use your hearing aid’s telecoil feature, you need to enter an area that contains a loop system. 

Loop systems are composed of three parts— a microphone, a loop amplifier, and a loop of wire. The loop of wire is positioned around the circumference of the physical space. Space may be very large, such as a concert venue or a church, or rather small, such as a living room or even a chair. A loop can even be mounted around a person's head (called a neck loop).

 

Hearing aid loops and mobile phones

To assist those listening to mobile phones with a hearing aid people usually prefer accessing Bluetooth technology.  However, there are many universal solutions for this out there on the market, which are suitable with your hearing aids set to the 'T' or 'Loop' program setting.

 

Telecoil Hearing Aid Technology

Telecoil Hearing Aid Technology

Telecoils hearing aids & loop systems

 

How do telecoils and loop systems work together?

Here is how the hearing loop works in conjunction with a telecoil to send sound directly into your ear:

 

  1. An audio signal is identified from a sound source, such as your TV, stereo, or public PA system via a microphone. 
  2. This signal is amplified and travels along the loop of wire which goes around the entire area. 
  3. As the signals travel through the loop of wire, a magnetic field is produced in the area that mimics the original sound signal.
  4. A telecoil fitted inside a hearing aid converts this magnetic field into the sound you can hear.  When you toggle your hearing aid from the microphone to its telecoil feature, it connects a small wire coil (the telecoil) to the input of the hearing aid amplifier, as opposed to the microphone. This tiny wire coil is attuned to nearby magnetic fields, such as the one generated by the loop system.
  5. The magnetic field produced in the room loop triggers the same electrical signal in the telecoil.
  6. The hearing aid amplifier then boosts this signal, letting you experience an accurate reproduction of the sound signal in your ears.

 

Why should you use the hearing aid telecoil mode?

There are a number of benefits to using the telecoil feature in a hearing aid.  Here are some of them:

 

  • Better speech comprehension

Hearing aid microphones have a limited range, but the telecoil offers greater audibility for people with hearing aids when listening to speech, sometimes even better than people with normal hearing! It does this by cutting out unwanted background noise.

  • More inconspicuous

When a loop system is in place, hearing aid wearers don’t have to risk an embarrassing situation by asking for an extra device, which could mark them out as someone saddled with hearing loss. Plus, there is no need to use bulky, expensive receivers when the telecoil is already within the hearing aid itself.

  • More accessible

Anyone with a compatible hearing aid can use the system, and they will serve everyone who can stand inside the loop.

 

Do I need telecoil hearing aids?

In reality, however, there are some instances where telecoils might not be the best option. Here they are:

 

  • Not optimised for music

Telecoils are designed for speech signals, so music may sound distorted as a result. This is based on the fact that music is often made up of higher frequencies than the bandwidth of the telecoil can manage.

  • Non-portable

Using telecoils within a venue needs a fixed loop to be mounted in the space. The loop cannot be transported easily to other locations, and the power of the sound signal is limited to the boundaries of the loop itself. For example, if a loop is installed for a TV in the living room, the signal strength decreases significantly when the user leaves the living room.

 

Hearing Aids With Telecoil

Telecoil for Hearing Aids

A widely available technology

 

A greater scope of sound at your fingertips

Ever since the Equalities Act was passed in 2010, those who have hearing loss are classed as having a disability and are therefore protected by law against discrimination. This means that businesses and other organisations must provide hearing loop systems to maintain accessibility for all.   

A telecoil hearing aid means you will benefit from a greater scope of sound wherever you are, and you don't miss out on the important things in life - like conferences and live gigs.  Hearing loops are therefore common in public spaces across the UK, such as:

 

  • Churches
  • Concert halls
  • Universities
  • Black cabs
  • Airports
  • Museums (for guided tours)

 

If you’re unsure whether a particular venue provides hearing loop services, just look for the loop logo.  Here is an example below.

Telecoil Article

Are telecoils in all hearing aids?

Not all hearing aids have telecoils, but the number is increasing. Broadly speaking, the smaller the unit, the less likely it is to contain a telecoil. This is because the telecoil is usually too large to fit into the smallest devices.

In 2014, the U.S. hearing aid report found that 323 of 415 hearing aid models (71.5 per cent) were equipped with telecoils, as well as 81% of models larger than the two smallest hearing aid types (Completely-in-canal and Invisible-in-the-canal). 

Telecoils are most likely found in two styles of hearing aids: In-The-Ear (ITE) and Behind-The-Ear (BTE). As a rule of thumb, if the hearing aid uses a size 10 battery, it won't include a telecoil. 

Some hearing aid models will indicate the presence of a hearing loop in the name. For example, the Phonak Audéo M-312 T has a Telecoil, as indicated by the ‘T’ in its name. 

Hearing aid wearers who want to make use of telecoil technology should talk to a local audiologist. This is because telecoils often need to be activated before they can be used. They can then be easily toggled to enable dramatically improved hearing in a range of public venues. 

 

Hearing aids without telecoil

You can, in some cases, still access the wireless sound from a hearing aid loop system - you just have to use an additional device, such as a streamer.  Please be aware that this would only work if you have a hearing aid with Bluetooth capability.

 

In conclusion

Hearing aids with telecoil technology has revolutionised the way individuals with hearing loss experience sound. By tapping into induction loop systems and electromagnetic signals, these devices enhance sound quality, reduce background noise, and promote inclusivity in various social and public settings.

With continued advancements in technology, telecoil-enabled hearing aids are empowering individuals with hearing loss to fully engage with the world around them, improving their overall quality of life.

 

Want to know more about hearing aids with telecoil?

Call one of our audiologists free on 0800 567 7621 to see what hearing aids are available with telecoil technology.

They can also help answer any questions and support with topics such as telecoil hearing aid use, rechargeable hearing aids with telecoil,  hearing aids with Bluetooth and telecoil, telecoil hearing aid compatible devices, and more.

 

Read Next:  Top 5 Hearing Aids

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Paul Harrison
Hearing Aid Advisor
Unlike most national retailers we are not owned by any manufacturer, this means we can offer the full choice of all makes and models of hearing aids


This article was written by Paul Harrison - Audiology Expert

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert & Founder

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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Common FAQs about hearing aids and hearing loss

Is this the best model for me?

If you are looking at this page then it is likely that an audiologist has suggested that you purchase this particular hearing aid, so is this the best model for you?

In general, any audiologist will always be recommending to you the model that best suits your needs. Here is a useful check list to make sure that is the case.

  • Audiologist level of knowledge. The audiologist you have seen will hopefully have a wide knowledge of all available hearing aids, however some will only be familiar with a small number of brands and therefore may not really be in a position to know which model is the best for you. It is OK to challenge their recommendation and ask them to justify why this particular brand is the one for you.
  • Do research. Read about the hearing aid that was recommended. Does it seem like it will suit your lifestyle? Does it have more or less features than you need? 
  • Be aware of sales targets. Many high street retailers have specific tie-ins to a particular manufacturer/brand. The hearing aid they have suggested may still be the correct one for you, but do your research so that you know why they might have recommended it.

If in doubt, feel free to give us a call. That's what we're here for.

Do I need one hearing aid or two?

If you have a significant hearing loss in both ears, you should be wearing two hearing aids. Here are the audiological reasons why:

Localisation. The brain decodes information from both ears and compares and contrasts them. By analysing the miniscule time delays as well as the difference in loudness of each sound reaching the ears, the person is able to accurately locate a sound source. Simply put, if you have better hearing on one side than the other, you can't accurately tell what direction sounds are coming from.

Less amplification required. A phenomena known as “binaural summation” means that the hearing aids can be set at a lower and more natural volume setting than than if you wore only one hearing aid.

Head shadow effect. High frequencies, the part of your hearing that gives clarity and meaning to speech sounds, cannot bend around your head. Only low frequencies can. Therefore if someone is talking on your unaided side you are likely to hear that they are speaking, but be unable to tell what they have said.

Noise reduction. The brain has it’s own built in noise reduction which is only really effective when it is receiving information from both ears. If only one ear is aided, even with the best hearing aid in the world, it will be difficult for you to hear in background noise as your brain is trying to retain all of the sounds (including background noise) rather than filtering it out.

Sound quality. We are designed to hear in stereo. Only hearing from one side sounds a lot less natural to us.

What are the benefits of rechargeable hearing aids?

For most people, the main benefit of a rechargeable hearing aid is simple convenience. We are used to plugging in our phones and other devices overnight for them to charge up. 

For anybody with poor dexterity or issues with their fingers, having a rechargeable aid makes a huge difference as normal hearing aid batteries are quite small and some people find them fiddly to change.

One downside is that if you forget to charge your hearing aid, then it is a problem that can't be instantly fixed. For most a 30 minute charge will get you at least two or three hours of hearing, but if you are the type of person who is likely to forget to plug them in regularly then you're probably better off with standard batteries.

Rechargeable aids are also a little bit bigger and are only available in behind the ear models.

Finally, just like with a mobile phone, the amount of charge you get on day one is not going to be the same as you get a few years down the line. Be sure to ask what the policy is with the manufacturer warranty when it comes to replacing the battery.

 

Are behind the ear aids better than in the ear aids?

For most people, the answer is yes. But it's never that simple.

The majority of hearing problems affect the high frequencies a lot more than the low ones. Therefore open fitting hearing aids sound a lot more natural and ones that block your ears up can make your own voice sound like you are talking with your head in a bucket. Therefore in-ear aids tend to be less natural.

However the true answer is we can't tell until we have had a look in your ears to assess the size of your ear canal, and until we have tested your hearing to see which frequencies are being affected.

People with wider ear canals tend to have more flexibility, also there are open fitting modular CIC hearing aids now that do not block your ears.

There is also the age old rule to consider, that a hearing aid will not help you if it's sat in the drawer gathering dust. If the only hearing aid you would be happy wearing is one that people can't see, then that's what you should get.

Most people can adapt to any type of hearing aid, as long as they know what to expect. Have an honest conversation with your audiologist as to what your needs are.

What are channels, and how many do I need?

Generally speaking, six or more. Unless it's none at all.

The number of channels a hearing aid has is often a simplistic way an audiologist will use to explain why one hearing aid is better than another, but channels are complex and it is really not that straightforward.

Hearing aids amplify sounds of different frequencies by different amounts. Most people have lost more high frequencies than low and therefore need more amplification in the high frequencies. The range of sounds you hear are split into frequency bands or channels and the hearing aids are set to provide the right amount of hearing at each frequency level.

Less than six channels and this cannot be done with much accuracy, so six is the magic number. However, a six channel aid is typically very basic with few other features and is suitable only for hearing a single speaker in a quiet room. The number of channels is not what you should be looking at, it's more the rest of the technology that comes with them.

As a final note, different manufacturers have different approaches. One method is not necessarily better than any other. For example some manufacturers have as many as 64 channels in their top aids. Most tend to have between 17 and 20. One manufacturer has no channels at all.

Where can I get the hearing aids covered?

Hearing aids are easily lost, misplaced or damaged and typically are one of the most expensive personal possessions an individual can own. We offer hearing aid warranty cover for £80 per year per aid.  Find out more here

How much does the hearing test cost?

All our audiologists use the very latest technology and provide the full range of tests to accurately measure your hearing for free.  Find out about what we offer all our customers here

Do home visits cost extra?

Hearing Aid UK offers all their customers free home visiting services and home visits for hearing aids - Including hearing tests, fittings, maintenance, check-ups and much more in the comfort of your own home and at your convenience.  Find out more information here

How come you're much cheaper than other places?

Here, at Hearing Aid UK, we are dedicated to offering low hearing aid prices. We achieve this by having no head office and low marketing costs.   Our hearing aid prices are amongst the lowest you will find anywhere in the world.

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