by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man wrote:
My recent installation of your hearing loop pad is working remarkably well, leading me to believe that the t-coil in my hearing aid is in good shape. Prior to this, I thought the t-coil was defective because it had no effect when trying to use it with my “hearing aid compatible” cordless telephone or any of my telephones. May I have your comments, please?
I’m glad to hear your loop system is working out so well for you. Loop systems are such wonderful devices and produce such clear sound, I’m surprised more people don’t use these wonderful Contacta HLD3 loop systems.
The fact that you hear well on your loop system proves that your t-coils are working great. So why don’t they work with your various phones? Good question.
There are a couple of possibilities.
First, you need to realize that t-coils are very directional “beasties.” If they are not aligned in the same plane as the transmitting coil in the phone, the signal can fade away to almost nothing. The further they are out of alignment, the worse you hear.
Manufacturers orient the t-coils in hearing aids in various planes. If they mount them vertically, they work best with floor loops, but not with neckloops or phones. If they mount them horizontally, they work best with phones and neckloops, but not with floor loops.
To try to serve both worlds, some manufacturers split the difference and mount the t-coils diagonally. This lets them pick up both horizontal and vertical loop signals–but these signals are far from optimal.
Second, the strength of the coil in phones varies. So does their placement. If the coil is nearer the back of the handset, then it isn’t as close to the t-coil, and thus the signal is fainter than if it was mounted closer.
It takes a bit of experimenting to get around these problems. If you are having problems hearing on the phone with your t-coils, you need to find the position such that the phone’s coil and your hearing aid’s t-coil are closest together and at the same time, both coils are aligned in the same plane.
Doing this can be a finicky business. You have to move the phone handset around in relation to your hearing aid until you find the “sweet spot” where the signal is the loudest. With one phone, I actually had to turn the handset over and listen to the back of it in order to hear well!
The best way to experiment is before you make a phone call. Pick up the handset and listen to the dial tone while you move the handset around, and also tip it up and down to see where you get the loudest signal. That is where you want to hold it every time you use that phone in the future. This position is a bit different for every phone.
Another problem is that your t-coils may not have been set up properly in the first place. If you have to turn the volume way up on your hearing aids in order to hear when using your t-coils with phones, you know your t-coils are not set up properly. Your t- coils should be set so that when switching from microphone to t- coil mode the volume should appear to stay approximately the same to you. If the volume drops significantly when switching to t-coil mode, then your audiologist needs to readjust them.
The way I like to use t-coils with phones is to use the Music Links and plug them into the phone. This only works with smart phones that have 3.5 mm headset jacks–but most cell phones are now smart phones. With the Music Links, I can hear with both ears which greatly improves understanding, and I don’t have to fool around looking for that “sweet spot.”