As a person with hearing loss who plans to attend public events once the pandemic subsides, you may be resigned to feeling that your listening experience will be less than ideal when attending concerts, plays, or movies. Even with hearing aids, it may be difficult to hear the loudspeakers at the venue because of subtle background noises.
Furthermore, you may sit quietly during dinner discussions because it’s difficult to understand the person next to you, or across from you. The rustling and background noise is just too much to overcome.
Fortunately, the latest hearing aid technology makes it easier for individuals with hearing loss to socialize and participate in these settings.
Revolutionizing the hearing experience
Modern hearing aids use two different technological innovations to further enhance your listening experience at public events. These innovations are the telecoil and the hearing loop (or induction loop) system. The telecoil and hearing loop system both provide crystal clear sounds that would otherwise sound far away and distorted.
A telecoil is a tiny copper coil antenna inside your hearing aid that picks up electromagnetic signals from a hearing loop system. The telecoil turns the electromagnetic signals into the sounds you hear through your hearing aids.
Telecoil technology allows you to use a smartphone or tablet in conjunction with your hearing aid. This connection can make discussions with the person closest to you sound clearer, even though you’re in a busy room or attending a loud event.
This technology was initially used to improve the clarity of telephone calls for individuals experiencing hearing loss. All landline phones and cellphones are now required to have this technology. The use of telecoils was then expanded for use with hearing loop systems to help those with hearing loss hear better at public events.
Does my hearing aid have a telecoil?
Not all hearing aids have telecoils. If your current device doesn’t have a telecoil, you may want to ask about this feature when it’s time to buy a new hearing aid. If you’re interested in this enhanced technology, your hearing specialist will be happy to show you hearing aids that incorporate telecoils. You should be aware that hearing aids with telecoils are often slightly larger than those without, however.
If you already have a hearing aid, but aren’t sure if it has a telecoil, you can ask your hearing specialist, call the manufacturer, or research the model number online.
Hearing loop systems
A hearing loop is a wire that encircles a room and transmits electromagnetic sounds which are picked up by the telecoils inside hearing aids or cochlear implants. A hearing loop system makes it easier to hear the distinct sounds you might find at a concert venue, movie theater, or performing arts center.
If your hearing aids don’t have telecoils, you can wear a loop system headset and still benefit from this amazing technology.
Those who have experienced the improved audio these systems provide say it’s difficult to explain. They say it makes the listening experience much easier and more enjoyable.
Finding hearing loop enabled locations
Hearing loop systems are becoming more common. You may not even be aware that a location you frequent has a hearing loop system installed. Once you learn a specific venue has the system, you’ll want to update your technology so you can enjoy this valuable perk.
When planning an event, ask if the venue has a hearing loop system to accommodate people with hearing loss. This will benefit not only you, but everyone at the event who owns a hearing device that’s compatible with the system.
Hearing loop signage
The universal symbol for a venue with a hearing loop system is the white outline of an ear on a blue background with a large white line running diagonally through the ear.
A “T” in the lower right corner indicates the system will work with your hearing aids’ telecoils.
The sign may also explain what a hearing loop is for those who’ve only recently been introduced to the world of assisted hearing.
If the sign has a purple background and no “T,” this means the venue has other devices and systems available to aid those with hearing loss. If a hearing loop system is not available, the venue may offer different types of assisted hearing devices, from infrared systems to FM headsets.
You can always ask the venue’s staff for clarification if it’s not immediately clear what technology is available for the hearing impaired.