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

Telecoil is a small coil of copper wire that is built into a hearing aid or cochlear implant. It uses an electromagnetic signal to receive signal from certain telephones or other devices, or from loop systems if they are installed in the room. Because the signal is delivered electromagnetically, it can be enhanced by the hearing aid, increasing the signal to noise ratio, and allowing the wearer to hear more clearly with less ambient noise.

Telephones or TV listeners must have a magnet installed that can communicate with the telecoil. Loop systems involve an installed electromagnetic loop in a room or area that should be clearly indicated with the telecoil symbol. They are usually installed in theatres or places of worship, and transmit the connected sound picked up by microphones directly into the hearing aid users ears while they are in the looped area.

While telecoil 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- so you may find that the very tiny CIC aids, or miniBTEs, might not have telecoil capability. In addition, with the advancement of Made for iPhone features in hearing aids, many newer hearing aids will 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 on 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 can help the desired signal to come through more strongly and with less interference from background noise. However, in South Africa, loop systems are not very common, which 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 who would struggle to hear in these circumstances without it.

For more information about telecoil 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, which is why amplification decisions should always be made in consultation with a qualified hearing healthcare practitioner such as an audiologist.