Hearing Loops 101

Simply put, hearing loops are the invisible solution to an invisible challenge for millions of people with hearing loss.

In technical terms, a “Hearing Loop” is an Audio Induction Loop System that delivers a clear audio signal directly to the telecoil in hearing devices. It is considered the gold standard for assistive listening technology because it requires a simple switch to  “T-coil” mode for people wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. No extra gear is required!

Matching old school technology (think copper coil used in telephones of the 1940’s) with today’s audio induction loop amplifiers = the most effective, seamless solution for ADA compliance + inclusivity, today and for many years to come. (See IHAC statement with forecast.)

In its most basic form, a “Hearing Loop” utilizes a loop of copper wire around the perimeter of an area that is connected to an induction loop amplifier. An audio input signal (from a microphone, TV or other sound system) is directed to the hearing loop amplifier which then drives the audio signal through the wire loop in the form of a strong alternating current. As the alternating current from the loop amplifier flows through the loop, it creates a magnetic field within the looped area and “induces” the telecoil (or T-coil) in a hearing device, or specifically designed hearing loop receiver, within the looped area.

When a hearing device user (hearing aid or cochlear implant) switches their device to the “T” position, the telecoil in the hearing device picks up the fluctuations in the magnetic field and converts them back into alternating currents. The alternating currents are amplified and converted by the hearing device into crisp, clear sounds — free of distorted background noises that interfere  with hearing, understanding and engagement.

Not all hearing loop solutions require professional installation; some hearing loops are built into desk or counter-top portables that area good for private, face-to-face conversations.

What is a Telecoil or T-Coil?

A telecoil functions as a wireless antenna that links to a source of audio and delivers customized sound to the listener. A telecoil is literally a small copper coil that is built into  most hearing aids and all cochlear implant processors. The telecoil may be activated manually or set to automatically switch on in the presence of a hearing loop field. All landline phones are designed, by law, to be used with a telecoil.

If you are buying a hearing aid for the first time, be sure to ask that a telecoil be included. With a telecoil you can expand the functionality of your hearing aid or cochlear implant.