Stop Trash-Talking Telecoils!

Dear Readers:

During this holiday season, the editors at Hearing Health & Technology Matters (HHTM) are taking some time off. However, we are not leaving you without anything to read on our blog this week. Instead, we are publishing a special holiday edition filled with what we call our Readers’ Choices.

Our Readers’ Choices featured this week are the posts published on each of our individual blogs that drew the largest number of viewers during the year. Whether or not you have read these Readers’ Choice posts before, we think you will enjoy them. 

Best wishes for a Happy & Healthy New Year!

 

I don’t know how to say this more clearly: Telecoils in my hearing aids have made my life better.

Better, happier, easier, and more connected. And I’m not the only one – there are gazillions of us. Because of this positive experience, it’s frustrating for us – the hearing loss advocates and international organizations – to hear that audiologists are advising against telecoils, saying they’re ‘old technology’ and here, try this newest, greatest thing!

Without telecoils, I wouldn’t have been able to use the phone as well as I have for the past 20 years. I still use it to talk on the phone, both cell and landline, daily.

Without telecoils, I would continue jostling for space at the front of a group or crowd, to sit in the front row so that I could better see and lipread the speaker. Now I can stand at the back of a crowded hall – like I recently did at the national conventions of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and the Hearing Loss Association of America. In plenary sessions and smaller workshops, the speakers’ voices flowed beautifully into my devices. (Bluetooth can’t do that – the poor speaker would have 100 transmitters handing around her neck or pinned to his clothes.)

Without telecoils, I wouldn’t have been able to use audio guides in museums, art galleries, boat tours and other facilities around the world that care about inclusion for people with hearing loss. I would have had to rely on imperfect relay by the Hearing Husband or get by just with the visual information.

I’ve used telecoils in other looped environments such as at church, at the bank, and watching TV. When I’m presenting or performing, in addition to the audience area being looped, I ask for the stage area to be looped as well, because it lets me hear myself better (always a good thing for the presenter).

Still, many audiologists say that telecoils are ‘old’ technology, as if discoveries come with a “Use By” date when they are suddenly no longer useful. I mean, hey! What about the wheel? It’s a very old invention – and to this day, wheels still make our world go ’round. Like the song says: big wheel keep on turnin’! Penicillin and insulin were invented in the 1920’s and they are still saving lives. So, while telecoils are decades-old, they still provide crucial and exquisite access to communication.

Hearing care professionals need to stop trash-talking telecoils, because people with hearing loss around the world love them! We love how switching our devices to the telecoil mode connects us to other people. And it’s not an ‘either-or’ situation. We also love what Bluetooth does for us when we can use it. We adore the improvements in speech-to-text technology. We are passionate about captioning.

We want it all and today we can have it all – but only if hearing care professionals put client needs first and look at our overall, everyday hearing requirements. And if they are still not convinced – simply because we say so – we strongly recommend they attend a consumer hearing loss event. There, they can see for themselves the look on the face of a person with hearing loss when they use telecoils for the first time in a workshop or when someone sings the national anthem. That look of wonder is worth a CEU (Continuing Education Credit).

If you’re a person whose hearing care professional tries to talk you out of a telecoil, be polite but firm: Give. Me. A. Telecoil! And if that doesn’t work, find a more person-centered care clinic.

I used telecoils to hear Dawn Mollenkopf, also a hearing aid user, kick off the HLAA convention

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". 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, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

8 Comments

  1. I recommend that you write to the FDA about this issue of telecoils in hearing aids. Hearing aids are categorized as medical devices within the FDA oversight.

    Here’s FORM FDA 3500B (2/19), The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program, to fill out and make the case for telecoils to be included in the hearing aids.
    C:/Users/UNHPublic/Downloads/FDA-3500B_03-06-19.pdf

    For Medical devices, contact the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Division of Industry and Consumer Education (DICE) – Email: DICE@fda.hhs.gov

    Thanks to Gael Hannan for the excellent insight into telecoils that are necessary to have in the aids!

  2. Totally agree Gael. Telcoils are a lifesaver for us who have hearing loss. I agree that it’s disappointing that HC Professionals dismiss them so easily for the latest ‘better technology.

  3. Telecoils bring the voice of the speaker directly into your ears. If you wear a hearing aid in both ears have the telecoil provided in each hearing aid. They provide your enjoyment of being able to hear in meetings and the theatre without missing a word and the stress of finding a front seat. You can also use the volume control on your hearing aid. If your hearing health provider will not include telecoils in your hearing aid I personally would find one who does. Thank you Gael for this excellent article on Telecoils

  4. Thanks for this post Gael, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s an important message that the hearing ‘experts’ need to be reminded off. Hand off our Telecoils!

  5. If your hearing health provider is not requesting telecoils in your new hearing aids they are not doing you any favor. All Hearing Aid Compatible Telephones must have hearing aids with installed, working telecoils. They bring the sound directly into your ears (telecoils in both hearing aids) when visiting the theatre, churches, public auditoriums that have been looped. Telecoils can also be installed in hearing aids with no telecoils. It is not rocket science. If your hearing health provider is against telecoils I would find one who accepts telecoils. You can adjust the volume in your hearing aids with installed working telecoils. Thanks for this wonderful and important article Gael.

  6. Thank you SO MUCH for clearly explaining a fact I’ve tried to express with audiologists ever since “they” quit making analog HA. I cannot live with out telecoil programmed into my digital, Bluetooth HA. After 45 years of wearing HA to function in society, I know telecoil is what everyone needs to KEEP in HA. It would be the answer to our elderly generation whom are new to wearing aids and trying to adjust and adapt to hearing loved ones on any phone. I’ve seen my father and too many seniors struggle to hear and enjoy the benefits of HA and talking on the phone.
    Those who are selling (and making) HA just don’t truly understand. They need to hear us AND LISTEN! Don’t reinvent the entire aid. Keep the “wheels” of telecoil!

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