Stop Trash-Talking Telecoils!

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

 

Feature Image Painting: The image is by the late Chuck Baird, a brilliant Deaf painter.

 

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.

11 Comments

  1. Where are the comments? They are not showing at the end of Gael’s column in my HHTM newsletter. I’d like to see what others are thinking on the topics.

    1. Hi Emmett, you will find more here now….they had been stuck in “approval” limbo without my knowing it,

  2. Me Too! – as they say. I am pretty fluent in Roger pen technology but also have been playing with an Artone 3 Max neckloop, bluetooth and Telecoils in my HA and CI. The other day I was stuck in a 45 minute wait at the barber shop. I paired the Artone to my iPhone and played a half hour podcast through to my hearing devices via Telecoil. The Artone has volume control on it and yet with the telecoil I was the only one in the room that could hear what I was playing and the clarity was excellent. Very helpful for phone calls as well. Thanks for another helpful article.

  3. The telecoil is one of the great inventions of history. My first was about 1967 or so, I think in the Radioear eyeglass temple aid. It had a switch on top that allowed me to turn it on with a quick hand flip and speak on the phone instantly. My successful County work with thousands of customers was made possible by the telecoil in tandem with a wonderful volume control handset to the telephone. It also had the great benefit of shutting out all outside extraneous noise in the room, so I had a completely stress-free conversation with the citizen who called me. Telecoils should be standard (and required) equipment in every hearing instrument. Telecoils have to be a certain size and orientation, which is why canal aids almost never have them. I’ve heard of people who were completely unaware they had a telecoil. They had a switch, all right, but were mystified to it’s purpose because they never thought to flip it while on the phone. Problem is some hearing aid dealers have failed to inform their customers of this handy feature, which I consider to be malpractice. When their own telecoil was demonstrated to them, typically at an HLAA meeting, it’s a revelation! My best analogy is it’s like driving without headlights at night — the driver (hard of hearing person) is amazed at how bright the view suddenly becomes. And for him, one of life’s struggles on the telephone became easier. Old technology? What would you replace it with? It’s essential equipment. Take it from me, 50 years of telecoils and still going strong.

  4. I agree. Problem being is that those who sell hearing aids clearly don’t take the time to talk about it.

    I was with a friend once in a setting where she wasn’t hearing anything. Meanwhile I heard very well. She asked me why I was doing so well. After explaining the situation she was not happy as her person never said a word about it.

  5. This is an excellent blog Gael! I wasn’t aware that this had been happening and it’s quite unfortunate for sure.
    I’m glad that you’re voice is speaking on behalf of hearing aid users with T-coils. Thanks!

  6. Thanks Gael. This is something the Saskatchewan group has been saying as well but you do it better. We are trying to do a loop initiative and want the audiologists in Saskatchewan on board with us. Can I quote some of your write up. You say it so eloquently.

  7. My hearing aids have an “extra sensitivity” mode where I can attend a conference and be the only person who can hear the person talking because the first thing he does is to push the microphone away from him.
    I also use this mode to hear music in a mall when it is very faint. I was in a mall listening to faint music with the “extra sensitivity” and the person behind me said, “Hi Emily”. I turn around and the person is not there but is at the far away end of the mall talking to an Emily on her cell phone.

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