by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man asked:
Are there any cell phones out there for me? I just bought two new hearing aids with T-coils, however, I have never had any luck with cell phones in the past so, I never bought one. When using the T-coils on the hearing aids I picture wearing something around my neck. Is that the only way the phone would work? What about bluetooth?
The good news is that today there are a couple of options open to you.
Here in the USA, each cell phone service provider is required to have at least one or two models that are compatible with your hearing aids without having to use any “add on” devices. Just how interference-free such phones are varies. Phones on CDMA networks (Verizon, Sprint, AllTel) are inherently the most interference-free. TDMA networks come next, while GSM networks trail far to the rear. I haven’t tried any of the latest models on each network, so can’t tell you which ones they are, or if they really live up to their claims.
Use devices such as neckloops or Music Links that plug into your cell phone’s audio jack. By using these devices, you don’t have to have your cell phone close to your hearing aids. This increased distance almost totally eliminates any interference.
You can get a hands-free neckloop that has a built-in microphone. (Note that regular neckloops will not work in a hands-free jack.) Some of these neckloops are also amplified. (The output of the cell phone sometimes isn’t enough to adequately drive a neck loop, especially if you don’t have strong t-coils in your hearing aids, or if their orientation isn’t the best for using with neckloops.) Unfortunately, hands-free amplified neckloops are relatively expensive.
An even better solution, and one that is much cheaper too, is to use Music Links. Music Links are small and hook over your ears. Because they are so close to your hearing aids, they do not need to be amplified. In my opinion, they give an even better signal than do neckloops because they are not subject to fading depending on which way you turn your head.
For hands-free use when driving, you could use the Music Links and leave the phone on your lap or lay it on the car seat.