by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
January 11, 2016
A lady asked,
Are there assistive listening technologies that are compatible with cochlear implants (CIs)? I pore over your articles, but it is not very clear to me with reference to which technologies match the needs for people with CI devices. Each inquiry directed to other resources produce a dead end which, over time, has resulted in a reluctance to even ask. I know you have included many articles pertaining to CI, but I have not been able to follow up satisfactorily on hearing aid technologies applied to CI that might make my life a little easier. Can you help me?
I’d be glad to help you. I thought it went without saying that devices that coupled to hearing aids could also couple to cochlear implants in much the same way–so I didn’t say it. Furthermore, I assumed people knew how to apply the technology to both hearing aids and CIs. Obviously, that is not the case. Thus, this topic needs some explicit details.
Assuming that your cochlear implant has a t-coil in it, you shouldn’t have any problems using the same assistive devices you connect to hearing aids via their t-coils. (All recent CIs do have a t-coil so that shouldn’t be a problem unless you have an older one.)
Any devices that work with a t-coil will work with a CI. For example, this means if you have any audio device or assistive listening device that has an earphone jack on it, you can simply plug in a neckloop instead of earphones and then couple it to your CI via its t-coil.
Furthermore, many CIs have a direct audio input (DAI) jack on them or on their remotes. Again, you can plug in a patch cord from the earphone jack of an assistive device (or audio device) to the DAI jack and thus use any of these audio devices with your CI.
Note: Use the patch cord that comes with your cochlear implant, not a regular patch cord. The CI patch cord has an isolating circuit built into it to protect your CI.
As you can see, pretty well any assistive device that you can use with a hearing aid, you can also use with a CI. (I’m only talking about standard devices, not proprietary devices that some hearing aid manufacturers and CI manufacturers employ to keep their customers (meaning you) tied to their expensive (and profitable) proprietary assistive devices.)
If you see any hearing aid technologies that you think you’d like to use with your CI, let me know. I should be able to tell you how to use that same technology effectively with your CI.