Accessibility Hearing Loops & Telecoils Hearing Technology

Hearing Loops & Telecoils

Assistive Listening Symbol
Assistive Listening Symbol specific to Hearing Loops

A hearing loop, a.k.a. an induction loop, wirelessly transmits magnetic energy from sound systems to telecoil (T-coil) sensors in hearing devices. Installation of a wire loop (various arrays) in the floor or ceiling of a facility or area is required. Activating the T-coil in their hearing device allows the user to hear sound directly from any looped room or facility, stage, hall, playhouse, theater, conference area.

Hearing loops are old technology (invented in 1937), but that doesn’t mean they are outdated. The U.S. lags far behind European, and other, countries in providing loops. And, they aren’t just for the Hard of Hearing (HoH), anyone can experience the clear and direct sound piped into their ears via hearing loops and telecoil receivers.

Feel free to contact us through our website if you want to learn more about loops.

Julia: In various group gatherings, peer groups, and classes, I have heard the question, “Do you have a T-coil?” The usual answers:

  • What is that?
  • My audiologist says only to use bluetooth, telecoils are outdated.
  • Is that my number three program for telephones?

As I am writing this, I am wondering if I have ever heard anyone give the answer, “Yes. I use it for…”? Utah has state legislation that makes it mandatory for audiologists to talk about assistive listening systems when selling hearing aids, including loops and telecoils, to help patients understand what T-coils are, along with other options. The fact that people have more questions than answers about telecoils says something about the lack in the hearing health medical profession and patient care that currently exists.

What I have learned, from HoHs who know and understand what telecoil function can be used for, is that they love it. It brings the sound of a room straight to your hearing aids.

Chelle: I was one of the lucky ones with an audiologist encouraging me to use the T-switch (telecoil) back in the mid 90’s. I worked in a salon and the background noise could be horrendous, competing with the phone calls. The T-switch shutdown my environmental noise and concentrated on what came across on the phone instead. Some background noise bled into the phone calls, but usually I could hear better…unless the other end of the line had a lot of background noise. 

Not too long after moving to Salt Lake City, our state Deaf/HoH center had hearing loops installed in two meeting rooms and I was able to experience my telecoil program (hearing aid technology improved, no longer a switch but a dedicated program) in a whole new way. The tables all had microphones and as long as everyone talked into the microphone it was great! Hearing loops became my favorite assistive listening system, I hear much better/clearer through the loop than FM systems. For the first time in years, I did not have to concentrate so hard on lipreading or focus as much on CART. (I still need the backups for missed words.)

Here in the Salt Lake valley, we have our D/HoH center, Hale Centre Theatre and the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City. Other cities have their own looped options. Check the ALD Locator (also lists other assistive listening systems) to find out what’s available in your city.

Loop wires, they go around the edge of the floors typically but that doesn’t work in our house so we put them along the ceiling.

Audiologists will say hearing loops aren’t used anymore and talk more about Bluetooth. Bluetooth works great for personal devices but they have not come out with a public option yet. Bluetooth also drains battery power, T-coils have no extra battery drain. I encourage everyone to attend hearing loss conventions for many reasons: the people, the workshops, they provide CART and install temporary loops. If you don’t have the telecoil in your hearing aid, or the program turned on, you will miss one of the best hearing experiences of your life. It doesn’t cost more to have a telecoil so when you go to get new hearing aids, make sure it has one.

Loop driver, it pushes the sound through the wires.

To be honest, my favorite time to wear hearing aids is in hearing loops. That’s when my hearing aids really come through. I don’t have to pick up devices and worry about them being clean. I don’t have to return them after the meeting/show. I just walk in, turn on my telecoil program and I have my very own personal listening system. I have one in my living room too.

Michele: Because I have never worn HAs other than in trials (hyperacusis complicates things), I don’t have much experience with loops or telecoils. I always wondered if I could benefit from hearing loops in another way? Then, several years ago, while visiting Chelle in Salt Lake City, I was able to try out the looped room at the Sanderson Center with headphones. The little bit of sound from the loop enhanced my lipreading skills. 

Thomas Kaufman, founder of OTOjOY, poses for a portrait at FilmBar in Phonenix, AZ in April of 2018. Nick Serpa, The Republic
LoopBuds app turns my iPhone into a Hearing Loop Receiver

In June of 2018, I was able to try LoopBuds at the HLAA convention during a presentation by Thomas Kaufmann, the founder of OTOjOY and LoopBud inventor. I wound up buying them. The downloadable LoopBud app turns an iPhone into a loop receiver that lets you control the volume, balance, and equalizer settings. Again, the little bit of sound I get with the LoopBuds enhances my lipreading skills. I bought a second set to donate for the SayWhatClub convention silent auction. It was a hearing spouse who made the winning bid, impressed by Thomas Kaufmann’s (our keynote speaker) description of how hearing loops allow you to hear things that would normally be drowned out by background noise.

Living in Europe for almost four years (beginning in 2012) I noted the proliferation of hearing loops outside of the U.S. I’ve heard many hearing loop advocates speak about the benefits of bringing sound directly into your ears via telecoils in HAs and CIs. I’m not sure why we lag behind other nations in this area, or why audiologists often fail to inform consumers about the benefits of telecoils?

So much of what is available to the HoH community seems to be well-kept secrets and Hearing Loss LIVE! wants to help change that. If you have questions, contact us.

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If you liked this post, try Listen Tech with Listen Everywhere and Connecting with Hearing Aids & Cochlear Implants.

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