…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.