In 2022, it’s easy to get caught up in newer and highly sophisticated hearing aid technologies. Indeed, Bluetooth, Rechargeable, Digital Remote Microphones (and more!) are all very useful and each adds to the Quality of Life (QOL) experience of the hearing aid wearer.
Nonetheless, one of the most successful hearing aid innovations remains the Telecoil (aka T-Coil). The T-coil is a tiny copper coil that acts like an antenna. Of course, the technology used in manufacturing, programming and accessing T-coils is very different now (2022) than it was some 75 years ago. Further, the vast majority of professionally dispensed hearing aids have T-coil options, as do all cochlear implants. Indeed, the newest version of T-coils, when combined with environmental “Hearing Loop Systems,” uniquely allows the hearing aid wearer with a T-coil to participate in large groups, using their personal hearing aid, programmed specifically for them, by simply turning on the T-coil.
To be clear, Bluetooth is wonderful for transmitting a single sound source (such as a smartphone, television, tablet, computer, streaming music etc.) to a set of Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids (one listener). However, Bluetooth cannot (yet!) be used in large rooms or public spaces unless one were to pair each individual hearing aid to the Bluetooth transmitter. However, if that same single sound source is sent into a room (location or device) that already contains a professionally installed Hearing Loop system, all people with T-Coils can access the wireless, magnetic sound source literally within seconds.
The most compelling and very significant advantage T-coils offer the wearer is an improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). An improved SNR means the signal (i.e., voice) you want to hear is amplified substantially above the background noise, making it easier to understand speech in noise.
Many people already use Bluetooth connectivity to stream smartphones and music sources to their hearing aids to deliver a high-quality wireless sound. However, when one finds themselves in some houses of worship, theaters, museums, government offices and more, which already offer a free Hearing Loop system, the hearing aid wearer with a T-coil can instantly access high quality sound, programmed for their specific hearing loss, through their own personal hearing aids.
Based on the T-coil benefits, it is recommended that you speak with your hearing care provider about the availability of T-Coils when you select your new hearing aids. T-coils are inexpensive, and are sometimes already available for no extra charge in many styles and types of hearing aids.