Hearing aid users can improve their cell phone experience by using cell phone accessories. But first, make sure you have a hearing-aid compatible (HAC) device.
The Federal Communications Commission considers mobile handsets to be hearing aid compatible if they are rated at least M3 for acoustic coupling and at least T3 for inductive coupling. All digital handsets have a rating for their ability to reduce interference with hearing aids operating in acoustic mode – from M1 to M4, with M4 being the best. Handsets are rated from T1 to T4 for their ability to operate with hearing aids that contain a telecoil (a tightly wrapped piece of wire that converts sound into electromagnetic signals) and operate in inductive coupling mode. A specific number or percentage of the handsets sold by handset manufacturers and mobile wireless service providers must meet these guidelines.
Add-on devices and cell phone accessories can make cell phones even more compatible with hearing aids.
Many cell phones can be used with hearing aid telecoils. Hearing aid accessories that provide a hands-free option may also be helpful.
HAC devices and accessories support hearing aids that have a telecoil feature.
Microphones within a hearing aid are generally designed to register all ambient sounds. However, ambient or background sounds can be distracting when you are trying to listen to a specific sound source, such as a phone call, theater performance, lecture in a classroom, or movie. The telecoil (also called t-switch or t-coil) is a type of antenna built into most hearing aids. It is designed to connect to sound systems and stream the most important sounds to the hearing aid.
Switching the telecoil to the ‘On’ position in a hearing aid switches off the microphone and instead receives signals from a loop system. The loop system is like an electromagnetic field. Signals from this field are then converted into sound using the telecoil. Some modern hearing aids also have the ability to keep both the microphone and telecoil features on together. This feature can be beneficial when the hearing aid user would find it impractical to turn off all ambient sounds. For example, watching a TV show while also being able to hear a knock on the door or listening to the family’s conversation is a situation when having both features active would be useful.
You can check with your audiologist or hearing aid manufacturer to find out if your hearing aid has a telecoil. It is also possible to use Bluetooth accessories with the telecoil feature. Just connect the telecoil in the hearing aid to your phone or TV using Bluetooth technology for the best hearing experience.
The neckloop is a wire that can be worn around the neck and has a microphone attached to it. Neckloops have a small pendant-shaped microphone that captures sound from an electronic device. The neckloop emits a magnetic signal transmitted and recognized by the hearing aid using the telecoil or Bluetooth feature.
While the neckloop is a wire-like necklace worn around the neck, the earhook is a thin wire that is hooked over the ear and settles behind BTE hearing aids. Earhook silhouette also emits magnetic signals just like the neckloop, but they are different because they have a thin wire that needs to be plugged into compatible devices, such as HAC phone and cell phone accessories.
Bringing a cell phone close to a hearing aid can sometimes create feedback or static noise. Using HAC cell phone accessories ensures that the cell phone stays physically away from the hearing aid and solves any noise-related problems.
HAC cell phone accessories also allow for hands-free use of cell phones. This can be very helpful in cases where multitasking may be required.
To learn more about the type of HAC phones and accessories that suit your hearing aid, explore options at your phone carrier’s store in your area. It is a good idea to try out a few different accessories to know which items will be most practical for your lifestyle needs.
If you are interested in cell phone accessories for your hearing aid, contact Dr. Fan at (848) 231-6637 to set up a consultation. Alternatively, you may request an appointment online.