When I Say I Want Telecoils…

…I mean it.

It wasn’t just an opening line to my hearing aid provider, so that she could come back with, “That’s old tech. Your hearing aid manufacturer has a great in-home kit, and a streamer, and lots of other neat stuff for just a few hundred dollars extra.”  Although, that’s pretty much what we said to each other.

I said I wanted telecoils so that I could use them with the phone and in looped environments. I had seen how much my friends benefited from the system and I wanted what they had—and I got it.

It’s only been five years since embracing telecoils and hearing loops. In those new (and soon to be retired) hearing aids, I had to choose between telecoils and Bluetooth. I couldn’t have both (which apparently I can in my upcoming set) so I opted for telecoils.

In The Way I Hear It, my book on living with hearing loss, I talk about the wonder of it all.


But today, for the first time, I have telecoils in my hearing aids and I know how to use them. When I use the phone, I push a little button (which may look as if I’m poking myself in the head) and BOOM! I can talk on the phone without feedback. I use a neckloop that attaches to my cell phone or iPad, and when I activate it, POW! The music comes directly into my ears. Listening to a speaker in a room that has a hearing loop around the perimeter of the room, I just hit those T-switches and KABAM! The speaker’s voice fills my head. (Page 75, soft cover version)


It’s a simple system that delivers sound directly to my hearing aids. Let me define ‘simple’. It’s scientifically simple if you are scientifically minded—which I am not.  But it’s simple to use.  All I do is poke myself in the side of the head and voilà!  I hear voices directly in my head, right where I want them to be—not floating in on sound waves that diminish in power with every inch they travel, so that by the time the important or interesting or melodic information reaches my poor, frayed hearing system, I can’t understand it.

Or as writer Neil Bauman puts it on his website hearinglosshelp.com: With a loop system, both lower- and higher-frequency sounds are captured by a microphone before the higher- frequency sounds are lost in the air. These sound signals are then amplified and “piped” to the t-coils in the hard-of-hearing person’s hearing aids without having to travel through the air as sound waves.  (Which is kind of what I said, right?)

Many hearing health professionals pooh-pooh telecoils and looping as old technology that doesn’t always work well.  (Oh, like Bluetooth is perfect?)  Tell that to the people who use the system—us, the people with hearing loss—who like it! It’s inexpensive and universal in its application.  We use loop systems when we’re at the bank or the theatre or in business meetings. Our telecoils connect us instantly to telephones that are hearing-aid compatible—which most phones are these days. We use personal neckloops to enjoy our music, TVs, cellphones and computers in quiet privacy.

Yes, the technology may have been around for a while but that’s OK; it’s working better than ever and advocates around the world are advocating for more looped venues and services. That’s why city subways, major theatres and other important venues are installing loop systems. That’s why phones are hearing aid and CI-compatible!

In an email to a friend (who shared it on the website of Juliette Sterkens, renowned hearing loop advocate), Barbara Bajurny wrote about her first experience with loops at the HLAA convention in Rhode Island:  (My friend) told me to switch my hearing aids to telephone mode setting. We were sitting in the very back end of the ballroom.  For the first time in my life, I was able to hear every single word (they) spoke without having to read their lips or rely on interpreters. I got goose bumps! I will never forget that day as long as I live.”

At the recent annual conference of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, Juliette Sterkens moderated a panel discussion on looping, delivered to rapt audience members sitting inside a looped area, many for the first time. I have it on good authority that immediately after the session, several hearing health professionals started the process of installing loops in their clinics.  Imagine—using a loop system to communicate effectively with your clients who have hearing loss—what a concept!

We talk about loops a lot at HearingHealthMatters.org. A recent post even shows you how to set up hearing loops in small areas.  I don’t care how it’s set up, I just want it to be set up in places that I need it.

As people with hearing loss, we are open to all technologies that will help us communicate better and we often use many of them simultaneously. We luxuriate in the almost overwhelming array of of helpful tech-stuff—and we can even afford some of it.

But when we say we want telecoils and looping, we mean it.

About Gael Hannan

The Better HearingConsumer addresses the personal experience of living with hearing loss. Editor Gael Hannan and her occasional guest bloggers explore every corner of the hearing loss life with humor and poignancy. Comment Policy   Gael Hannan, Editor Gael Hannan is an author, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog at the Better Hearing Consumer, which has a passionate international following,Gael has written two acclaimed books, “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”and “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”, written with Shari Eberts. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work that advocates for individuals to become more knowledgeable and successful at dealing with their hearing loss and a more inclusive society for them to live in. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, Canada. Books and other media Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. Written with Shari Eberts and available anywhere books are sold. The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss. Available through online bookstores. Unheard Voices, DVD, vignettes from the hearing loss life. Contact Gael Hannan to order.


  1. If you think telecoils still work wonderfully with hearing aids, just try it with a CI (actually the new N6 CI gives you both telecoil and bluetooth options)! The experience with the CI+telecoil will just blow you away! Absolutely, telecoils are NOT old technology. There is simply nothing that will replace a telecoil.

  2. My geek of a husband has fitted a loop in our living room. (£15/~$20 of EBay)

    Bliss, TV (or music) without our very noisy tropical fish tank pump.

    No temperamental blue tooth handshakes or headphones that stay charged for 30 seconds and No time delay, so everyone one else can have the sound on and I don’t care!

  3. Hello Gael:

    Thanks for another powerful and compelling message about the use of telecoils and loops. I’m not going to reiterate your points except to say that I’ve been using telecoils in my hearing aids for 30+ years and I have to say that I think there the best think since, well hearing aids themselves.

    Both the hearing aids and the telecoils, working in tandem, are powerful tools that keep me connected to the hearing world, so that I can both hear and understand. By themselves, the hearing aids don’t always do that due to distance, sound levels, loud sounds, etc,, however, once I turn on my telecoils, all I can say is I’m fell connected and a part of the world.

    Without these two magnificent technologies, I would be functionally deaf and my quality of life would be too depressing to talk about. So, thanks again for spreading the good word and, as always, keep going with your amazing blogs, performances and book writing. The world needs to hear your powerful messages mixed with your unique sense of humour.

    Bye for now!

  4. Thank you Gael for another powerful article! I will be sharing this wherever i go because i too am a strong believer in the use of telecoils. I have used telecoils for as long as i can remember and was adamant for it once when an audiologist told me i didnt need it in a new hearing aid. It is so simple to use, cost effective to install and so freeing for the hard of hearing user that i dont understand why it kind of fell by the wayside. Anyhow, this article should go viral because it is so important to hard of hearing people.

  5. And while you are talking with (ahem…educating) your provider about telecoils why not nudge him or her to install a hearing loop in their waiting room or loop a chair in a treatment room by connecting a small loop driver and seat loop to the laptop computer? For less than $300 the provider can educate, demonstrate (hearing is believing) and verify that the telecoil is appropriately set for the hearing aid user. For instructions see http://www.loopwisconsin.com/Images_PDF/Hookup2TV.pdf

    While you are on your talking chair – why not hand the provider one of two articles written by and for audiologists how to get their community in the loop? See http://www.hearingloop.org/AP+Vol+6+Issue+4_LoopingGuide.pdf and http://www.loopwisconsin.com/Images_PDF/SterkensATMayJun.pdf

    Providers as well as assertive and educated consumers are critical to successful hearing loop initiatives.

  6. “Only five years”? I’ve been using telecoils since 1968, and my life since then would not have been possible. Telecoils made it possible to serve so many people over the phone. The nice thing is it shuts out all other extraneous sound. There could be a racecar revving two yards away and I wouldn’t be aware of it. Oh, the vibrations through the floor might tip me off something unusual is going on…

  7. Telecoils work wonders with my HAC cellphone. I hope all cellphones are now hearing aid compatible. If you wear a hearing aid in each ear you are able to hear your cellphone with both ears providing they each have a telecoil. If you have been told your hearing aid has a telecoil check to see if it has been turned on.

  8. Gael: Thanks for this wonderful article!
    In my world of hard of hearing, the telecoil and inductive loop rule! My audie knows I want telecoils….I don’t even have to ask when I get new hearing aids. She advocates for them too and has a loop in her office.

  9. Calling telecoils and hearing loops “old technology” is not an argument. Not activating telecoils because there are no hearing loops in the clinic’s geographic area is also not an argument.
    Consumers travel and a hearing care provider will never know where their travels take them: I recall getting an over-the-top excited email from a friend who traveled from Arizona to Chicago to attend a performance at the recently looped Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire:

    Quote: “Yes, I’m in Chicago right now while my husband is here on business. On Sunday I went to the Lincolnshire Theater and saw “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” The loop system was WONDERFUL! I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the overall quality……….yes! I’ve always loved theater which became lost to me as my hearing declined. After my CI I was able to get back to it, but it was never as clear as was Sunday’s performance with the loop, music and all (end quote).

    Another consumer traveled to Sweden and told me she was able to fully understand the tour guide (cute accent and all) while visiting the Stockholm City Hall because the guide used a microphone that transmitted the spoken word wirelessly to the hearing loop in the Rådssalen council chamber. This allowed her to wander around, while her husband was relegated to staying close in order to hear the tour guide speak.

    Hearing loops happen when professionals start to educate their clients and take a leadership role in their community as advocates for their patients. This is the reason why so many hearing loops are appearing in Wisconsin see: http://www.loopwisconsin.com/Images_PDF/WisconsinLoops.pdf. Many professionals in my state ARE educating their clients and speaking up in their communities. They understand that loops not only benefit hearing aid and CI users but also increase their visibility in the community. Something Brian Taylor has called “pillar-of-the-community” marketing see: http://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/to-become-pillar-in-your-13254.

    Too many audiologists are seen by their clients (and I meet MANY consumers during my travels around the country) as being focused on sell, sell, sell the latest technology. Getting involved with the hearing loop campaign is the RIGHT thing to do. If a provider gets involved because he/she thinks it makes good marketing sense, well, that’s OK too. The end result will be the same. Hearing loops improve the providers’ AND the hearing aids’ public standing. That is a campaign we can all get behind.

  10. Re: Old technology
    The car and the aeroplane are technologies that are roughly twice as old as the hearing loop. The plough and the wheel are thousands of years older. All have been dramatically improved over time. As a technology ages, it gets *better*, not worse.

  11. Powerful message. Hearing Loops and Telecoils are getting global attention. Demand is increasing around the world.

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