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When reading up about hearing aids and their features, one may come across the terms ‘telecoil’ or ‘T-coil’. This feature is commonly found in hearing aids- but what exactly is it, and how might it work for the hearing aid user?

How does it work?

Telecoil is a small coil of copper wire built into a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Certain telephones or other devices, or loop systems, transmit an electromagnetic signal. The hearing aid can enhance the sound, increasing the signal to noise ratio, which allows the wearer to hear more clearly with less ambient noise.

Telephones or TV listeners must have a magnet installed that can communicate with the t-coil. Loop systems involve an installed electromagnetic loop in an area that is clearly indicated with the telecoil symbol. They are usually installed in theatres or places of worship. Microphones pick up the sound and transmit it directly into the hearing aid users ears while they are in the looped area.

Can it work for you?

While t-coil used to be a relatively common feature, it is not present in all hearing aids. Generally one way in which hearing aid manufacturers make hearing aids smaller is by removing the telecoil. For this reason you may find that the very tiny CIC aids, or miniBTEs, might not have t-coil capability. In addition, many newer hearing aids have Bluetooth capabilities rather than telecoil. To find out whether your aids have telecoil, it’s best to ask your audiologist.

Telecoil can help many hearing aid or cochlear implant wearers hear better in difficult sound environments. It can help with the phone, while watching television (telecoil compatible phone or TV listener is required), or while in a telecoil installed theatre, church or hub for public transportation. It allows the desired signal to come through more strongly and with less interference from background noise. Unfortunately loop systems are not very common in South Africa. This limits the amount that a hearing aid user might use their telecoil feature. Telecoil is particularly beneficial to those with severe to profound hearing loss.

For more information about t-coil and how you might make it work better for you, contact us or comment below. Remember that every hearing loss and every hearing aid user is unique. For this reason you should always make amplification decisions in consultation with a qualified hearing healthcare practitioner such as an audiologist.