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?
Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!
Never miss a post! Sign up below for email alerts.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
67 thoughts on “When You Discover The Miracle Of A Hearing Loop”
I have telecoil on my aids but haven’t had the opportunity to use them. Is it just a matter of putting it to that setting when in the appropriate space? For instance, if it’s a looped theater, I simply press to the telecoil and that’s it?
Yes. If you are in a looped area, just switch to telecoil mode. You do have a choice to make about whether telecoil mode also hears the aid’s microphones. Depending on your aids, that’s something that needs to be set by your audiologist, or by you using the aid’s remote control.
With the mics off, you only hear the loop and not the room
noise; with the mics on, you can hear someone next to you but you then hear all the room noise. It’s a personal choice.
In addition to area loops in some venues, you can use telecoil mode to hear most phones, and you can plug a neckloop into your smartphone to hear it even better … not just phone calls, but music, podcasts and video. You can also install a room loop in your TV room and hear the TV better.
Thanks for the helpful explanation!
That is my understanding. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Looped events have changed my life. My only complaint is that it is not available in enough places. It seems captioned is a better option for theaters and other public venues in my area. I used the infrared headset in NYC and it was the first time in 25 years that I have been able to throughly enjoy a musical.
Yes, I wish it was available in more places too. Thanks for your comment.
It is available in most movies theaters, now. Some use FM receivers that let you plug in a neckloop: some use headphones that are telecoil compatible.
Some churches are looped; some use FM that support neckloops or headphones that are telecoil compatible.
More and more places every day… Good news!
Yes! Loops are life changing! Telecoils or in Shari’s case, loop buds make the magic possible. To use any of the assistive listening systems; Hearing Loops, FM or Infrared, we must have that essential hearing aid feature, the telecoil, to benefit from our personal hearing aid technology and the assistive listening system. As Steve mentioned, telecoils are very useful!
Thank you for all your advocacy work to make loops more prevalent!
Shari, I love this blog!
Thank you so much for writing about your experience; you’ve captured it perfectly!
Thank you for all you are doing to get hearing loops in more places so we can all enjoy them!
Hey Susan – if you would like to see loops in more places – join hands with other advocates in the Get in the Hearing Loop group – email GITHLInfo@hearingloss.org for more information. When I started my advocacy there were 0 (zero) loops in Oshkosh and perhaps half a dozen in all of WI – by the end of the year I am hoping we will reach 700! YOU can be that person who makes it happen in your community. Read one Dr. Carol Lomicky’s story here https://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local/lomicky-s-mission-is-to-spread-gift-of-sound/article_c44e6a33-9598-5f37-81e4-1a28365aa857.html
what is extended wear hearing aids?
I wear Lyric hearing aids. You can read about them here: https://www.phonak.com/us/en/hearing-aids/lyric-invisible-hearing-aids.html
Thank you, Susan! Yes.
Municipal ordinances for public buildings covering these aspects need updates. Large buildings with auditoriums, meeting rooms, waiting areas, etc., would be great examples of accessibility.
How can we get manufacturers, advocacy groups, employees talking to their HR departments, and people responsible to make this happen talking to each other about implementing these changes that make all the difference in the world?
Higher morale, more inclusion, increased productivity and quality of lives improve.
Absolutely! Thanks for your comment.
Good to know—-thank you for sharing the info with us!
Thanks for reading!
Sadly, I live in a country, where the tech is out of touch with good tech for HOH/deaf people. Although Israel is known for its tech advances, in medicine, etc., there is little regard for people with disabilities.
Public places don’t have “looping ability”. One is “lucky”, if businesses have a speaker and a microphone, where the HOH person puts the little speaker up to his/her ear. Antiquated, but somewhat functional.
I just got new hearing aids, last year…insisted that my audiologist include the telecoils. I soon found out why the audiologist, said, “Ok, but you’re not going to get to derive much benefit, because most public places have no lopping systems for deaf/HOH people.
I couldn’t believe it when he told me this. But, I’ve found it to be true.
This is such a darn shame.
LIving in this strange country, is hard enough (can’t learn Hebrew, because of the hearing loss).
Now, on top of all of the other problems, I cannot utilize get the advantage of being able to hear lectures, etc., because there are no looped places.
That is a shame. Things are changing slowly and looping technology is becoming more available. Hopefully that will be the case in Israel as well.
Ronnie, this is so sad. I will do some research and email you privately. Hearing loops are the universal standard for international hearing access. Loops are widely available across the UK and elsewhere in Europe as well as part of Australia and New Zealand. We will have to get you some hearing access in Israel. too!
Even though there are few venues in your area that are looped, you can use a personal neck loop with any audio device that has an input jack. Plug a neckloop into your laptop computer, your iPad, iPod, whatever else you use and try those telecoils. If enough people did this in locations where room loops were not available, they might get excited enough to get looping going. FYI, our HLAA Chapter has been using a hearing loop at meetings since 1985. We built the original loop out of telephone wire and layed it down on the floor prior to our meetings. Hearing loops are really very basic. The loops installed today are more sophisticated due to standards that have been set only recently. Obviously, they are better….but the old hand made variety did work, and it’s an excellent place to begin educating on this.
Your recommendation is very wise, for people living in the USA.
Telecoils really do give so much more bang for the buck.
Audiologists don’t routinely suggest that people should add them to new hearing aids.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.
Glad you can now benefit from the loop buds.
I suppose that you are really lucky to have encountered someone who has them.
I am very lucky that someone told me about them! That is one of the benefits of support groups like HLAA — getting tips from other people with hearing loss. Thanks for your comment.
So here in the US are public places (theaters, businesses, etc…) set up for the telecoil?
Also is it a benefit for those on the Reverse Slope hearing loss spectrum?
I just recently got the confirmation of this dx from a doc at Vanderbilt & he was hugely encouraging me to continue working with my audiologist in Knoxville of getting my aids adjusted to me, though he did warn me that it is tougher. I have such a hard time with background noises interfering with conversations that it is very frustrating & I often get consonants mixed up LOL I never hear the sentence correctly.
More and more places in the US like theaters, public spaces, and places of worship are adding hearing loops, but there is still much more work to be done. T-coil is a benefit no matter what your hearing loss is since your hearing aid will theoretically correct for that. The t-coil simply allows you to connect directly to the space’s sound system, eliminating background noise. Thanks for your comments.
You are not alone! Dealing with competing noise is probably the most frustrating thing for each of us!
I remember when I first learned to use a telecoil. It did take a bit of trial and effort. But today the telecoil can be programmed so that it has the same frequency response as the microphone, thus the sound difference is much less noticeable.
Hearing assistive technology such as loops can dramatically improve our ability to understand speech. The key is to get everyone to use a microphone so we can benefit from the technology. For conversation, you might try using a personal amplifier or a remote microphone to supplement your hearing aids.
Practice by listening to books or podcasts. Your audiologist will be able to make adjustments based on your notes and input.
Gina, as an audiologist I can tell you that hearing loops work very well for all but the most profound hearing impaired people (as they require visual cues “lipreading” to make out speech.) Hearing loops improve the signal-to-noise ratio in much the same way as moving your iPhone closer to your ears when you are in a noisy environment, helps you understand a video sound recording. By moving the phone closer, the speech signal becomes louder – relative to the background noise – and the signal-to-noise ratio becomes more positive. As we age, or as we are listening to someone speak with an accent, someone who speaks rapidly, or listening to difficult to comprehend speech our ability to tolerate poor signal-to-noise ratios is reduced. When aging is combined with hearing loss, tolerance for poor signal-to-noise signals is even further reduced. Even the most advanced hearing aids CANNOT provide the signal-to-noise ratios that many consumers need to hear with ease under the conditions above or in large public places. ONLY moving your ear closer to the speaker (not very practical if you are attending a lecture) or moving the microphone closer to the speaker (something that you can accomplish with a wireless mini-mic that now come with many hearing aids or by using a telecoil in a hearing loop, or using a telecoil in conjunction with an FM or IR device an a neckloop) can give you clear speech understanding.
Also, if your HAs have the telecoil (T-coil) the provider/audiologist needs to “turn them on”/activate them and connect them to a ‘channel’ in your HAs, so that when you press the button they will connect within the loop!
Yes, very true! Thank you for adding that clarification!
What kind of hearing aids do you wear?
I wear Lyrics. https://www.phonak.com/us/en/hearing-aids/lyric-invisible-hearing-aids.html
I’ve long been a fan of audio loops. I installed a loop in my main room that enables me to listen to books as I exercise and as an added aid with TV. It’s an old technology. Unfortunately in Maine there are few public venues that use the benefit. You can plug your phone into it and listen directly to books, music or podcasts. An audio or optical cable from your TV plugs into the audio amplifier that energizes the loop and you all set. If you’re handy at all it’s simple to make happen.
I have approached our library about looping their meeting room where there are many presentations that are just not accessible to me and others I am sure. I think that might actually happen. The biggest obstacle to such endeavors is the stigma itself that’s owned by the HOH community. I feel confident that if everyone who could benefit from a looped environment would speak up the sound would be deafening – if you will pardon the expression. 🙂
I agree Jerry. We need to continue to raise awareness about the benefits. Thank you for your advocacy!
Also, as Steve Barber mentioned above, in the absence of a room loop, f.ex., where the ALD is FM, a small neck loop can be worn by you/me which wirelessly connects your telecoil to the “black box” of the FM receiver, meaning that you don’t have to remove your HAs and use the (usually uncomfortable) headset that comes with the receiver. This is another reason to activate your telecoil, even in the absence of a room-looped situation.
I have been surprised and disappointed, in moving to the Bay Area, to discover how relatively few hearing loops are installed in public places. The region seems to have opted for FM a long time ago. But loops are making some gains. The new rapid transit stations and cars (BART) contain loops–it’s a start. A few local HLAA members are working hard to improve the situation and are largely responsible for the progress with BART!
Thanks for pointing this out. We have so many tricks to share with one another!
Advocacy works! Speak up!
It’s also possible to have a small device at home that can transmit the TV sound direct to your hearing aids via the telecoil setting, These are made by Univox & the unit is smaller than a paperback book. I was using earphones before but I find this is so much better & I can listen through one or both aids at the same time, I often use one so I can hear normally through my other aid if the doorbell or phone goes etc.
You can either make a loop around a room under the carpet or along the skirting board or just an easier option as I have – just a small pad under the seat where I sit to watch TV. You do have to run a thin wire ( comes with the kit) from the TV to the unit however as there are not wireless options as far as I know.
Thank you for sharing this information!
Buyer beware; In UK we do have ‘free’ NHS aids which are large but do work! On retirement I treated myself to ‘private’ small but expensive ones. The supplier promised massive improvement. When I asked for the t-coil setting to be activated there was none … I felt they had been miss-sold. Did battle for 6 months letters/visits etc This week I am going to have my ‘new’ aids fitted and working! No extra charge.
It is important to confirm and confirm again. I am glad you getting the t-coil this week. Good job advocating for yourself!
Shari, please tell us where we can purchase loop buds, and what they cost. This might help several people in our HLAA Chapter who have been misled to believe that loop technology is ‘old and outdated’. It’s a constant battle. Hard to believe that providers don’t push telecoils, but many don’t.
Here is the link to the site: http://www.loopbuds.com The cost is $75.
Julie: this seems to be he norm or at least has been for me. My former audiologist didn’t believe in audio loops because there was not enough money in it. He refused even to loop his office to demo the system. I find that there is a deep misunderstanding of the technology and the relative ease of installing a system – specially in one’s home.
Our personal feeling is that every hearing aid (if possible as some times size of HA dictates if a t-coil is possible) should have a T-coil. We battle almost every day with Audiologists, HIPs, HIS and HAP’s who do not realize the benefits oft-coils and lack knowledge on loop systems and how they work.
Loop systems are easy to install in many many different situations from home to large public venues.
The loop Buds are a fantastic new product and also the Williams Sound Pocketalker 2.0 comes with a built-in t-coil.
Loop systems for homes are actually not that expensive, in fact not much more than the cost of an expensive TV wireless listening system. All banks should have a portable loop kiosks available for their clients to use, same with information desks at government building.
Thank you Shari for sharing again why loop systems are important and their value…
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
This discussion is so good, I’m gonna have to go back and read it again! I was just researching in ear monitors to possibly use somehow at church. I have sudden hearing loss in my left ear and tennitus in both ears due to airbag deployment in an accident last year. I wear premium ReSound RIC hearing aids w/bluetooth/iphone compatibility. I tried the lyric as well as custom in the canal, but they didn’t work for me. I needed more flexibility in adjusting them. Hearing imbalance has been a challenge. One of the things that is the most difficult is attending worship services at church. I’m also a group fitness instructor, so I am in a lot of different gym settings with music and people talking. Thank you everyone for your input – Sites like this are invaluable!
More houses of worship are installing hearing loops. It might be worth asking your church if they can offer any hearing assistance. Good luck to you and thanks for sharing your experiences.
I wear larger BTEs and have always had a loop setting. It is wonderful to be able to press a switch on my aids and tune in to loop systems and cut out all the clatter of background noise and hear better what someone in the bank, or post office or a major store is actually saying.
So glad it works well for you! Thanks for sharing your experiences.
I ‘wondering if loopbud could be useful for me, the microphone of my hearing aids are on the side of the part that stands on the top of my ears( and not inside).( Oticon pure)
Thanks for your help
Does your hearing aid have a t-coil? That would be the easiest way to access a loop. If not, you probably would need to remove your hearing aids to use the loop buds. You could ask your audiologist about it. Thanks for your question.
Hello Etienne, is possible that your hearing aids are made by Siemens? (Called Orion Pure? https://usa.bestsoundtechnology.com/media/2015/04/orion-ric-user-manual.pdf) if so – they most likely have a telecoil built in. If you aren’t sure – email your audiologist and ask as it is possible she/het did not activate this feature. Some providers think that just because their are no hearing loops in their communities, consumers don’t need telecoils. Yet, I hear often from hearing aid users who are pleasantly surprised when they “discover” the benefits of hearing loops on their travels.
thanks for your e mail…I was wrong , I wear Oticon OPN ( Siemens were my former ones ), and the audiologist told me that no telecoil was build in this Oticon OPN ..as my audiologist retired , do you know another portable device that I could use the same way as a tcoil and a loop?
Thanks in advance for your help
Hello Isabelle, Sorry for this late reply. I have found that reaching out the MFR via the rep directly (with whom the audiologist usually has a good relationship) can sometimes make all the difference. Oticon has updated it’s models and now the T-coil unit is available. Why not ask if they will exchange? Feel free to contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to help you.
As mentioned above by many others, it all depends on the area you live in. Remote and rural areas do not have these facilities as of yet in the UK
It is true that some areas are farther ahead than others. Hopefully loops will be available everywhere at some point. Thanks for your comment.
For more on how to advocate for hearing loops in your community, see the webinar provided by HLAA that aired on March 21, 2018 – by Juliette Sterkens. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzaBalW57q4
Join Hearing Loop Advocate Juliëtte Sterkens for an informative session on how to foster hearing loops in your community. This webinar will review how to locate supportive hearing care providers and trained hearing loop installers, how to rally support in your community for loop technology, how to “find” and leverage funding, and how to spread the good news once hearing loops are installed using social and local news media.
Thank you for sharing this great information!
I have Phonak t coil hearing aids. I live in Los Angeles. I love live theater . The Ahmanson, Taper and Geffen have the hearing loops that you wear around your neck. I have tried them in all of the theaters and they do not connect with my hearing aids. My audiologist has program them and I know what channel to use. Am I missing something?
Hi there. Thanks for the question. Have you asked someone at the theater to help you connect? Perhaps they have an FM system rather than a loop. Good luck to you.
Does the FM system work with the t coil. Does it go directly into the hearing aid ? I did talk to someone at the Ahmanson and she gave me the name of the company that makes the loop. My audiologist said they use an FM system. Does that mean I can not get sound directly into hearing aid?
I don’t know what equipment they have specifically so it is hard to answer. You may need a neck loop to connect the two. Maybe bring your equipment to the theater early one time and experiment. Good luck.