Much has been written about the process of adapting to hearing aids. Hearing aids often feel unfamiliar at first, and the sudden amplification can lead to auditory fatigue; but eventually, the brain adapts to hearing aids and hearing ability and quality of life increase.
Less has been written about the world is adapting to hearing aids. But the increasing prevalence “looped systems” represents just that.
What is a Looped System?
In a looped system, a wire transmits magnetic energy to the telecoil-equipped hearing aids. The telecoil – also called a “T-coil” or an “induction coil” – transforms the magnetic energy to an alternating electrical current, which the hearing aid then translates into audio. The effect is akin to broadcasting sound directly into the ears.
Once popular, telecoils became less common with the spread of cell phones. Unlike land lines, cell phones were not initially telecoil-compatible – though compatibility has become more common in recent models. But thanks in part to a wonderful organization called Hearing Loop, looped systems are becoming increasingly ubiquitous.
The effects of "looping" range from the everyday to the sublime.
For improvement of everyday life, “Home loops” are available for use primarily in TV rooms. By connecting a small transmitter to a TV’s audio jack, a user is able to broadcast sound to his hearing aids.
For improving life's greatest pleasures, in such public venues as theaters, airports, and churches, an induction loop can be strung around an entire room. This is especially important because in such amplified environments, sound may bounce off several walls and become muddled before reaching listeners’ ears. While people with perfect hearing may be able to distinguish voices, people with hearing loss may have trouble recognizing speech. With a large “looped system,” the sound is delivered directly into the listeners’ ears, creating a hugely improved experience.
The Future of Telecoils
The emergence of looped systems and the resurgence of telecoils is wonderful news for people with hearing loss, many of whom can now distinguish the words in a sermon, or enjoy a live concerto, for the first time in years. Europe has made amazing strides toward looped system coverage -- in Denmark, for example, close to 100% of churches are covered -- and America is catching up.
If you’re interested in learning more, please visit hearingloop.org. Among the information compiled by Hearing Loop is a list of local suppliers, which may be of interest if you are considering installing, or lobbying for the installation, of a looped system in a nearby public space.
Telecoils are now available in cochlear implants as well as hearing aids – including the optional Bluetooth Remote, compatible with the Embrace Lumeo. As looped systems enhance more of our public spaces, expect to see a return of telecoils to nearly all hearing aid models.
Telecoils: a simple metal core around which fine wire is coiled.