What is T Loop?
A telecoil or T loop is a specialized circuit that is placed within hearing aids and consists of a small coil of wire. Although small, this wire is mighty. It is designed to pick up magnetic signals versus acoustic signals picked up by the hearing aid microphone.
When a telecoil is activated the hearing aid’s normal microphone is turned off and the teleocoil only picks up magnetic inputs. The hearing aid then converts the magnetic signal to sound which is then amplified by the hearing aid just as any other sound is. The benefit is no other sounds in the environment are amplified, thus the hearing aid user can focus only on the amplification of magnetic inputs.
You may be asking what are magnetic signals and what creates a magnetic signal? Magnetic signals are sounds created by hearing aid compatible phones as well as assistive listening devices such as induction loops.
Today’s highly-sophisticated hearing aids are typically automated to increase or decrease volume or to reconfigure to new settings based on the hearing aids’ “reading” of the current listening environment. This means the hearing aid adapts to provide the most optimal amplification based on the environment you are in.
The ability to listen in background noise and other difficult listening situations has in no doubt improved in recent years thanks to digital technology and features such as directional microphones. However, some persons run into problems hearing “through” the background sounds that surround us – even when our hearing aids have self-adjusted to the listening environment.
The problem occurs most commonly among those with moderate to severe and profound hearing loss or hearing loss associated with poor sound discrimination – the ability to clearly hear speech and filter important sounds (your client) from background noise coming in from all directions. Even with high-end hearing aids, the ability to hear clearly under difficult listening conditions has been somewhat of a hit-or-miss proposition, in many cases, leaving those of us with significant hearing loss at a loss for connectivity.
That’s where induction loop technology comes into play.
|Photo source: HearingLoop.org|
Induction (hearing) loop technology delivers sound directly to hearing aids that are equipped with telecoils. The induction loops broadcast the desired signal (sound) as a magnetic signal to the room the loop is present in and the telecoil serves as the hearing aid’s antennae – picking up the magnetic signal.
In result, hearing loops turn hearing aids into personal loud speakers that pick up signals generated by the induction loop. And since the hearing aid’s microphone is turned off, the magnetic signal is the only sound being heard (not the background noise). This creates a crisper and clearer signal for the user.
The benefits of induction loop technology and telecoils are numerous and because sound is delivered directly to each hearing aid user, not only is quality of sound improved but quantity of sound. You hear more of what you’re supposed to hear while hearing less background and other extraneous sounds in the environment.
Hearing loops create in-the-ear loudspeakers that deliver signals from any source directly to the hearing aids in the room. Of course, those who don’t wear hearing aids are unaffected and unaware of this transmission, but the impact on hearing aid users is nothing less than another giant leap forward in hearing technology. Induction loop technology will change the way hearing aid users hear.
Where Are Loop Systems Found?
The most common place this type of technology is found in its simplest form is in hearing aid compatible telephones. Hearing aid users should always purchase phones that are hearing aid compatible as these will automatically transmit not only an acoustic signal but a magnetic signal as well. To pick up the magnetic signal your hearing aids must be equipped with a telecoil.
Loop technology is also ideal for large, open spaces like churches, synagogues and other public places where sound from the front of the hall bounces off high ceilings and distant walls, producing echoes that are picked up by hearing aids! Not a very pleasant listening experience for hearing aid users.
And what about the tinny squawk box you encounter at your favorite drive-thru coffee shop? When the barista asks for your order all you hear is some compressed, tinny sound that can’t be deciphered no matter how good your hearing aids are. An induction loop at these drive-thru windows delivers the sound directly to the drivers’ hearing aids, by-passing the tinny speaker so you can place your order for a jumbo double-shot latte without getting out of the car.
You can even install an induction loop system in your TV room at home so you can hear the TV directly through your hearing aids without blasting the rest of the family out of hearing distance. Instead you hear the TV signal directly through the sound system plugged in to your ears. The induction loop sends out the sound signal that’s picked up by the telecoil in your hearing aids. It’s almost too good to be true.
And what about your workplace? Is it noisy? Do you have trouble hearing through the background noise of office equipment or a large boardroom where it is difficult to hear others due to distance? With induction loop technology, all you hear is clear, clean, undistorted sound through your hearing aids.
Are Loop Systems Expensive?
Nope. In fact, they’re a steal when weighed against the benefits they deliver. These personal listening systems can be installed inexpensively and used to improve the quality of sound for all hearing aid users in the loop.
The systems are simple to install and require virtually no maintenance. Simply hook in your sound source transmitter – whether it’s a microphone, a TV, stereo or cell phone – and the induction loop produces a magnetic signal directly to all the hearing aids within the loop.
Be Heard and Hear Again
So, what can you do? Well, you can ask your church or synagogue leaders to install an induction loop. Ask company management to install the technology. Or, to keep peace at home, install your own private, customizable induction loop system in the TV room or throughout the entire house, for that matter.
The technology is easily available, it’s low cost, easy to install (no retro-fitting involved) and it delivers sound signals directly to hearing aids, creating a personal listening system and improved hearing.
Businesses are already recognizing that induction loop technology increases worker productivity by enabling workers who wear hearing aids to hear more clearly on the phone or on the workplace floor.
Want to make a difference in the quality of sound you hear? Want to make a difference in the sound quality others hear – at the theater, at home, at the drive-thru or in that large auditorium where sound waves bounce around like ping pong balls?
You can take care of your own home simply and inexpensively. You can talk to the people in charge at work or your place of worship. Many of these leaders are unfamiliar with induction loops and the benefits they deliver. However, once you explain the benefits and the low cost involved in installing an induction loop system, these leaders are more inclined to take good advice – yours.
So speak up. Be heard. And hear better with induction loops.
You never heard it so good.
For more information on induction hearing loops visit HearingLoop.org, a nonprofit website advocating to “Loop America” by the installation of induction loops in public places and your home.