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What is a telecoil and what can it do? Maybe your current hearing aid has one or maybe you’ve been looking for a new hearing aid and have seen the term used. This tiny coil of wire may seem simple, but the advantages it can provide to people who use it are manifold. This article explains the basics of what a telecoil is and how it operates to improve your hearing ability.

Telecoils are made to pick up on magnetic signals. In contrast to conventional microphones and amplifiers, which amplify all sounds that hit them, a telecoil will only transmit sounds that are generated magnetically. The original emphasis for this technology was to ease listening during telephone conversations. Because older phones used magnets in their speakers, telecoil devices could offer a clear transmission of a telephone conversation. Newer phones no longer use magnets in this way. But, because the telecoil feature is so popular among hearing aid users, many contemporary telephones contain additional electronics to make them telecoil compatible.

Telephones aren’t the sole use for a telecoil. They are often used in conjunction with Assistive Listening Systems in auditoriums, movie theaters and stadiums. The venue might loan you a receiver or headset that will assist your hearing aid in detecting these signals. In some cases the magnetic sounds you receive will be a higher quality than what you could experience acoustically.

The size, type and age of your hearing aid can influence the way you access and use your telecoil. Telecoils are more commonly found in larger hearing aids, such as those that rest behind the ear. Older hearing aids can be switched between telecoil and non-telecoil modes using a physical switch on the device. Newer models are often equipped with program modes, allowing the user to switch on their telecoil by pressing a button on the device or on a remote control.

On rare occasions you might experience some interference when using the telecoil setting on your hearing aid. The interference generally originates from equipment such as CRT monitors or from fluorescent lights in the room. It will sound like buzzing which gets louder as you get closer to the source of the interference.

The occasional interference is the only disadvantage to telecoils. They really are fantastic additions that offer many added advantages. The price of a telecoil-enabled hearing aid is only somewhat higher and definitely worth the additional capabilities.

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