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Hearing Aid Feature #1 – T-coils

I’ve already discussed the importance of getting a t-coil. (Please go back and read it if you missed it!)  You must have a switch or button on your hearing aid to activate it manually when entering a looped room.  Some hearing aids come with an automatic t-coil.  That is just for talking on the telephone and will not work in a room with a hearing loop installed.

In the above image, the aid has a three position switch:
T = telecoil
H = high microphone
L = low microphone

The t-coil program my be accessed with a  button that scrolls through different program settings.

Some hearing aids give you a choice of “t-coil only” or “t-coil and microphone.”

“T-coil only” means you can completely turn off the microphone (muting all the background noise) and just hear what is being transmitted to the t-coil. (I love this feature!)

” T-coil and microphone” means you can keep your microphone on while using the t-coil.

I always use the “t-coil only” mode, but some people like to use both in certain situations, like driving in a looped car – listening to the radio through the t-coil but wanting to hear other sounds for safety reasons.

Hearing Aid Features

We are bombarded with ads for hearing aids that say, “very small”,  “our smallest hearing aid”, “completely invisible”,  “tiny” “discrete”, “inconspicuous”, “no one will know you are wearing hearing aids,” etc. etc.  These ads infuriate me!   They are reinforcing the idea that wearing a hearing aid is something to be ashamed of, something to keep hidden and private.  What these ads are NOT telling you is that “small” is not going to give you the most benefit out of your hearing aids.  When shopping for a hearing aid, know what features you are looking for.  Many features are not available in those “tiny” hearing aids!

The hearing aid features that are most important to me are:
1.  t-coil – with manual switch, not automatic
2.  volume control – on the hearing aid, not just on a remote
3.  program buttons – also on the hearing aid
4.  wireless connectivity – between hearing aids and with other devices
5.  integrated Bluetooth neckloop
6.  directional microphones – to help in noisy environments

I will elaborate on these features in my next post!  Stay tuned!

Shopping for a New Hearing Aid

Many people ask me what type of hearing aid they should buy.  First, I remind them that I am not an audiologist, that everyone’s hearing loss is different, and they really need to consult their audiologist or hearing aid specialist.  BUT, then I tell them MY experience and what works for me.  Because so many people ask me this question, I will spend the next several entries on this topic.  You may find it helpful to order the 2011 Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids.  This is available for $5.00 on the HLAA website at:  http://www.hearingloss.org/bookstore/index.asp.

Free Phones

Does your telephone have a volume control?  A neckloop jack?  A curved earpiece to comfortably fit over your hearing aid?  These types of specialized phones are available for free to qualifying individuals. 

In California, equipment is distributed through the California Telephone Access Program:  http://ddtp.org/

In other states, search the Telecommunications Equipment Distributions Program Association website:  http://www.tedpa.org/  (Click on “Home” and “Find a State Equipment Program”)