If you are wearing or interested in purchasing a hearing aid with a telecoil feature, you might be curious about what it does. This small coil of wire may seem simple, but the advantages it can provide to people who use it are manifold. Read on to get a better idea of what this simple device can provide.

Telecoils inside hearing aids detect magnetism. Unlike conventional microphones and amplifiers, which amplify all sounds they encounter, a telecoil will only transmit sounds that are generated magnetically. The original emphasis for this technology was to improve listening during telephone conversations. Older phones used highly effective magnets in their speakers, generating magnetic signals that telecoil-equipped hearing aids could recognize. Newer phones no longer use magnets in this way. But, because the telecoil function is so wonderful for hearing aid users, many contemporary phones contain supplemental electronics to make them telecoil compatible.

The telecoil feature isn’t just used in telephones. They are often used in conjunction with Assistive Listening Systems in movie theaters, auditoriums and stadiums. You may find that a venue will loan you a headset to assist in transmitting these signals. Because these magnetic sounds are often higher quality than what you can hear acoustically, you may find that a telecoil can significantly improve your enjoyment of an event.

The way you use your telecoil will differ depending on the size, age and type of your hearing aid. This function is more common in larger hearing aids, including those that rest behind the ear. Older hearing aids can be switched between telecoil and non-telecoil modes using a physical switch on the device. Newer hearing aids are often pre-loaded with program modes, allowing the user to switch on their telecoil by pressing a button on the instrument or on a remote control.

You may have heard about interference when using a telecoil: it can happen, but it is rare. You may notice a buzzing sound that gets louder the closer you get to an older fluorescent light, a CRT computer monitor, or another cause of interference.

The benefits of a telecoil-equipped hearing aid vastly outweigh the costs. Telecoils are generally inexpensive and definitely worth including in any hearing aid.