I’ve been writing about telecoils and looped things for a long time now. So has almost every hearing health advocate I know, especially the indomitable Dr. Juliette Sterkens.
Why do we keep shouting and writing about it? Because we’re passionate about their beneficial, positive impact on our quality of life. Because too many hearing care providers still pooh-pooh telecoils as a important, even necessary, communication tool.
It’s old technology, they say.
To this I responds, “Yeah, so’s the wheel, but it’s still getting us where we want to go!”
Telecoils work. They connect us to the world with rich and beautiful sound, not through soundwaves that are vulnerable to distortion when they reach our hearing system, but through simple brilliant, technology. I get teary just thinking about the telecoils in my hearing aid and cochlear implant.
Don’t get me wrong, Bluetooth is fabulous but it doesn’t fill all the communication gaps. I can’t use a landline with it. I can’t listen to a lecturer in a large hall or a show in a theatre or understand the person behind the counter in my hearing clinic with Bluetooth. These are all things I can do in a looped environment through my telecoil-equipped hearing aids.
Both the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA), as well as associations in other world areas, are putting serious weight behind the promotion of hearing loops and telecoils. But a few things have to happen to make it all work.
- A hearing loop must be installed in a space and appropriately advertised. Therefore, venues must first understand how a hearing loop makes their space accessible to more people – their clients, patients, parishioners, etc.
- People with hearing loss must know about telecoils. Therefore, hearing care professionals must encourage telecoil-equipped hearing aids with telecoils for their clients.
- Hearing aid/telecoil users must know where they can access a hearing loop, i.e., in their banks, theatres, churches. And when they use one, they should let others know about it.
And here’s exciting news! In a long overdue benefit for telecoil users. Google Maps has recently begun adding hearing loops—alongside wheelchair access—as an accessibility attribute within Google Maps business profiles. Try the app, use the loop and share the good news. This website article tells you how to use this great service.
If you are not already using telecoil, read about it and learn where you can use it and how it will improve your life. Talk to your hearing care professional (HCP) about it.
If you are already a telecoil user, you can still talk to your HCP to help broaden awareness. Ask them if they promote the use of telecoils with other clients (and if they give you the “it’s old technology” line, consider a new provider). Ask them to hold hearing loop demos in their offices and encourage their support in promoting the installation of hearing loops in their communities.
This HLAA Hearing Loop Toolkit is a valuable resource: https://www.hearingloss.org/programs-events/get-hearing-loop/hearing-loop-toolkit/
Telecoils and hearing loops are used around the world. Little ones in your own living room. Big ones in big halls and theatres. Your phone, your bank, anywhere.
Telecoils are crucial to my hearing happiness – what about yours?