What is a Telecoil?

Telecoils are special circuits inside some hearing aids that allow them to link with compatible phones, public address systems and other assistive listening devices (ALD).  An electromagnetic link between a telecoil and a phone or other assistive listening device allows listeners to hear a clear signal through the hearing aid without interference from background noise or acoustic feedback (whistling).  Not all hearing aids are equipped with telecoils.  If interested in taking advantage of the benefits of telecoils, let your audiologist know that you would like to order a model that includes a telecoil.

Hearing Aid Compatible Telephones

Unfortunately, not all telephones are compatible with hearing aid telecoils.  U.S. federal law requires telephone packaging to indicate whether or not phones are compatible with hearing aids.  The telephones themselves are not necessarily labeled, however. 

  • When purchasing traditional corded or cordless land line phones, look at the list of features and make sure the phone is labeled “telecoil compatible” or “hearing aid compatible.” 
  • When purchasing a cell phone, make sure the cell phone has a T rating of 4, which means that the cell phone has the best quality telecoil.
  • Telecoil compatible public phones are supposed to have a blue grommet on the cord.


Using Telecoils with Compatible Telephones

Check with your audiologist to see whether your hearing aids have a telecoil and to learn how to activate the telecoil.

  1. Switch the hearing aid to its telecoil or “T” setting.
  2. Increase the volume of the hearing aid slightly, if needed, or have your audiologist adjust the aid’s telecoil program to make the telecoil setting as strong as you require.
  3. Center the telephone’s handset on the hearing aid and adjust the phone’s angle until you hear the best sound quality.  The position of the phone in relation to the hearing aid will influence the strength of the telecoil signal.  Experiment to find out which position and angle sounds the best for you.


Using Telecoils with Compatible Assistive Listening Devices

Many theaters, auditoriums, meeting rooms and places of worship have public address systems wired for telecoil use.  The arrival and departure gates at airports and train and bus stations are also frequently wired for telecoil users.  Turn on your telecoil to see if you can hear the public address system better.  Some telecoil users may want to listen to the public address system with one ear and use their other ear for conversations with the regular microphone.  Ask your audiologist about setting up an assistive listening device (ALD) telecoil program in your hearing aid.


Telecoil Interference

If a telecoil circuit is turned on, but there is no compatible signal for it to link with, you may hear a buzzing noise.  Turn off your telecoil to avoid the buzz. 

If your telecoil is automatic and you cannot turn it off, try to move away from or turn off the electrical device that is causing the buzz.  The electrical interference may be coming from a computer, radio, TV, fluorescent lights, security system, or some type of motor nearby.  Leaning toward the source of electrical interference will make the buzzing louder.  This will help you identify where the problem is coming from.  If you need to be in that location often, you may need to shield the item causing the electrical interference.  If necessary, your audiologist can deactivate a hearing aid’s automatic telecoil.  Talk to your audiologist for other options.