I recommend that everyone get a t-coil in their hearing aid. The incremental cost is usually small, but the expanded functionality is huge. A t-coil or telecoil transmits the sound within any looped area directly to your hearing aids, cutting out background and other noises, letting you focus on what you want to hear. This is incredibly helpful at theater performances, in meetings, or when talking to your taxi driver. Of course the t-coil only works in a space that has a hearing loop installed.
As described by Wikipedia, “A hearing loop consists of a physical loop of cable which is placed around a designated area, usually a room or a building. The cable generates a magnetic field throughout the looped space which can be picked up by t-coil enabled hearing aids, cochlear implant (CI) processors and other hand-held devices.” Click here to watch a captioned YouTube video that explains this in more detail.
I always wanted a T-coil in my hearing aids so I could partake in the many joys of a hearing loop, but I wear extended wear hearing aids that do not have an option for a telecoil. This is a personal trade-off that I am making. I like the ease of an extended wear water-resistant product that allows me to enjoy my sweaty Bikram yoga classes and to hear my children if they call to me in the middle of the night. The fact that I wear them 24/7 also helps mask my tinnitus, which is a huge benefit for me.
A major downside to my hearing aids is that it is not possible to add a telecoil. But then a friend told me about a way around this problem — LoopBuds.
LoopBuds are a special pair of earbuds that can tap into a hearing loop. You plug the LoopBuds into your smart phone as you normally would with any pair of earbuds and launch the LoopBuds app. You can select your mode (speech or music) and adjust the volume. More advanced settings allow you to vary the boost you get by frequency and adjust the balance if you only want to use the loop on one side.
I first tried them at a performance of Junk at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theater and the sound quality was wonderful. And I didn’t need to stand in line for an infrared headset! Tapping directly into the hearing loop was a wonderful treat.
They also came in handy at my most recent Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) board meeting. All HLAA board meetings take place in a looped conference room, but I had never been able to take advantage of the loop before. It was a pleasure to hear all the voices clearly while using the provided captions only as a backup when needed. Wouldn’t it be great if all meeting rooms were looped?
Ask your audiologist if your hearing aids contain a t-coil, and if you are buying a new pair of hearing devices, request that a t-coil be included. It is usually more convenient to have the t-coil directly in your device. But if for some reason, you don’t have access to a t-coil in your hearing aid or CI, give LoopBuds a try. They worked for me.
Readers, do you use the t-coil in your hearing aids?
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