Hearing on the Telephone



Hearing aid users often have difficulties using the telephone. In fact, many people take their hearing aids out or use the phone on the opposing ear, if there is sufficient residual hearing. Below are a few ways to reduce these difficulties and make better use of the telephone and hearing aid.

No matter how good the hearing aid or telephone, if the person speaking to the hearing aid user does not speak clearly or speaks too quickly, the hearing aid user will have difficulties. Request that the speaker slow his/her rate of speech and enunciate when speaking.

Use the hearing aid directly with a telephone (acoustic coupling)

During acoustic coupling there are likely to be two issues. The first is called feedback. Feedback occurs when the telephone is brought up to the hearing aid and causes the aid to whistle. The second concern involves background noise. When using a telephone in the presence of external noise, speech understanding becomes more difficult. In these circumstances, it often helps to turn down the volume of the hearing device. Although turning down the volume may seem counterproductive, this has the effect of reducing the possibility of feedback while simultaneously lowering the level of the background noise; thus, aiding in speech clarity.

Use the "T" coil (inductive coupling)

The use of the "T" coil is important as it overcomes feedback (the whistle sound a hearing aid occasionally makes) and reduction of background noise volume. Many people find they hear better using the telephone this way.

Hearing aids often have a switch which not only turns the aid off and on, marked "O" for "off" and "M" for microphone, but also a position marked "T".  Some hearing aids have a push button which can activate the “T” coil and other hearing aids have automatic “T” coils which are activated when the phone is put up to the hearing aid.

When the hearing aid is in the "T" coil mode, the microphone is disconnected and no sound is heard from the aid because the microphone has been replaced by a pick-up coil. This coil does not respond to sound but does respond to magnetic signals which can be picked up from a telephone which has an inductive coupler fitted telephones fitted with inductive couplers are called "hearing aid compatible" or may be marked as follows:

You cannot tell if a phone has an inductive coupler by its external appearance because the inductive coupler is fitted inside. Before buying a telephone, try it with your hearing aid’s "T" coil to see that it has an inductive coupler which gives you sufficient sound as not all telephones give out the same level of magnetic signal.

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