The T-coil: Did you know…
Written by: Dr. Matthew Seldine
Today’s hearing devices provide dramatic improvements in patients’ lives. Their ability to reconnect a patient to their family and friends, as well as the world around them, is empowering and beneficial from a health standpoint. However, there are situations when a little extra assistance is necessary for increased satisfaction.
Enter: the T-Coil.
A T-coil, short for telecoil, is a small copper coil that can be integrated inside hearing devices. It works with a loop system which is built into the walls of participating buildings and structures. T-coils also work with many home phone systems and hearing device accessories. The T-coil acts like an antenna by picking up magnetic signals from the loop system and sending them as sound signals into the hearing devices. This allows the hearing device wearer to hear the relevant sound signals clearly. What’s even better is that only the sound signals from the loop system are sent into the hearing devices!
Hearing devices normally amplify the sound that enters their microphones. However, this sound is commonly a mixture of speech and background noise. Even with the advanced technology built into today’s hearing devices to enhance speech over background noise there are times when background noise overpowers what the hearing device wearer truly wants to and needs to hear. Additionally, distance plays a factor in hearing devices. Every device has a “sweet spot” for distance beyond which intelligibility declines. For situations when a hearing device wearer is in a large room or if a significant amount of distance is between them and a sound source, using a T-coil may be very beneficial and convenient.
T-coils can be used wherever a loop system is installed. The most common places loop systems are found are in places of worship (churches, synagogues, etc.), concert halls, universities, airports, museums, and even some taxi cabs in New York City. All the hearing device user needs to do is manually switch into their T-coil program and the hearing device will send audio clearly into their ears. Additionally, most hearing devices today have an automatic T-coil feature for use with landline phones and most cell phones.
T-coils come standard in most hearing devices today and can commonly be included in non-standard models for no additional fee. Some versions are programmable and further benefits include the reduction of the negative effects of distance, noise, and reverberation thereby improving sound quality and patient satisfaction. Due to the nature in which T-coils work, sometimes interference will be present as a humming or buzzing sound. This can be remedied by repositioning the head, body, or accessory accommodating the T-coil.
A T-coil can make a dramatic difference in the performance of a hearing device by expanding its functionality. Simply look for this symbol to find a loop system where you are.
Additional information on T-coils and loop systems can be found at:
http://www.hearingloop.org/ and http://www.hearingloss.org/