Absolutely! I highly recommend you obtain hearing aids that offer Bluetooth and telecoil technology. I have personally fit thousands of hearing aids with telecoils and worked with consumers around the country that have benefited from this feature.
While hearing aids have come a long way in the last decade, they do not give you normal hearing and most users report that hearing over distance, in reverberation and background noise (such as houses of worship, meeting rooms, theaters, lecture halls, pharmacy service counters and ticket windows) is still difficult regardsless of the level of technology inside the instruments. That is where the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) mandates the provision of assistive listening systems (or ALS for short). The most user-friendly ALS - and one that is increasingly finding its way in public venues around the country - is hearing loop technology. But, in order to benefit from a hearing loop you need a telecoil either built inside the hearing aid or in the hearing aid streamer or remote control.
Hearing loops broadcast audio (from the stage, pulpit or wireless microphone used by a speaker) via small changes in the magnetic field, wirelessly to the telecoil in the hearing aid. When the user switches the hearing aid to the telecoil mode, the user hears the sound as if the hearing aid’s mic is moved from the user’s ear to the microphone in use in the venue. Imagine hearing pure sound, as if you are less than a few inches removed from the mouth of the speaker, and without any background noise or reverberation? Experienced consumers rave about hearing loops: loops allow them to pick up the speech signals clearly, and over distance in the very places where hearing aids alone are unable to deliver. Google “YouTube and Hearing Loop” to sample several recordings in and out of the loop found on the web.
Hearing loops are used the world over, so if you are a traveler, you will want to order model instruments that come equipped with this useful feature. In most instances, they telecoils cannot be added after the purchse. That way you will be able hear well at the Sydney, Australia Opera House, the airport announcements in Dublin, Ireland or the Broadway performances at the Richard Rogers in NYC, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton WI or your church back home. To find hearing loops in your area visit: www.LoopFinder.com
How to know if you have a built in telecoil? If your hearing aids have a push button there is a good chance you have one but it may not have been activated by your provider. If your hearing aids have built-in telecoils you also need to know that the telecoil program can be set by your hearing care provider to a) pick up hearing loop signals as well as ambient voices from a spouse or sounds nearby (also known as the Mic+Telecoil setting) or b) set to pick up hearing loop signals only (T-coil only). Be sure to discuss your specific needs and wants with your hearing care provider. Generally, if your hearing aids are open/non-occluding (used when hearing loss is mild or moderate in degree) a T-coil only setting will be best; if your hearing loss is moderate in degree or worse (and your earmolds are occluding) an M+T setting is used. Some consumers want both program options and the good news is that many hearing aids allow multiple telecoil programs.
Many hearing care providers offer a hearing loop in the office so that you can try out the setting before you venture out in the “real world”. Be sure to ask for a hearing loop demo!
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