Wireless & Hearing Aids

The commonly used term in the headline might be a bit misleading, as there is nothing wireless about the hearing aid itself. But, there are lots of wireless features related to your hearing aid. These wireless features can be confusing. It’s not as bad as it sounds, so I hope this page clear things up.


Introduction

Hearing aids and telephones

T-coil (Telephone Coil)

Hearing aids and watching TV

Hearing aids and Bluetooth

FM Systems for hearing impaired


Introduction

This whole field of wireless in regards to hearing aids is not defined well, and many times you can get confused by the terms and definitions people use. You can come across experts that use a certain term for one thing while other experts use it to describe something else.

To begin with, wireless, as obvious as it sounds, is anything running without wires… In our case, it is usually used to describe additional options for using your hearing aids.

I cover the different topics here in a nut shell. Most topics got additional information in another page.  You can find the links within the text of every topic.

Hearing Aids and Phones

There are few ways to connect your hearing aid to a phone.

T-coil mode

The basic and straight forward solution for talking over the phone while using hearing aids is the T-coil. That’s the T-coil’s original purpose, and this is the classic solution. You simply switch the hearing aid to ‘T-coil’ mode and place the phone next to your ear.

Company’s solution

Nowadays, many hearing aids companies offer an intermediate device that you connect to the phone in some manner (cable, or Bluetooth). This device sends the sounds from the phone to your hearing aid. Typically, every hearing aid company got its own phone accessory.

Generic accessories

There are also generic accessories to connect phones to hearing aids. On many cases, they can work with all sorts of hearing aids and they are not limited to a certain brand. Many of these solutions are using a wire, so they are not wireless by definition, but they get the job done.

  -  Read more on hearing aids and phones here.

T-coil

T-coil original use was for phones, but nowadays they use it in many other scenarios like listening to the TV, on theater, and much more.

If your hearing aids got T-coil support, it means it can get signals from the outside world using T-coil and not only using the microphone. A good way to explain T-coil is as follows: when you switch to T-coil mode in your hearing aid, you choose to use a different ‘input’ to the hearing aid, the T-coil instead of the microphone.

  -  Read more on T-coil here.

TV

Watching TV when wearing hearing aids can work all right on many cases. On the other hand, you can have real problems watching TV if you got some level of hearing loss. A classic problem is when you want the TV volume higher than what other people in the room want it to be.

Since you typically seat away from the TV, many of the solutions are wireless.

You can divide the solutions as such:

  1. Generic and simple system without the need of a hearing aid.
  2. Generic and simple system that requires hearing aids.
  3. A dedicated device, tailored by the hearing aids companies.
  -  Read more on TV and hearing aids here.

Bluetooth and hearing aids

In the hearing aids arena, Bluetooth is mostly used to connect your hearing aid with phones, TV, music source and other electronic devices.

The great thing about Bluetooth, is that it is widely spread, and you can find it on many cellular phones and other electronic devices nowadays.

Since most hearing aids can’t have Bluetooth inside it, most of the hearing aids companies sell an intermediate device that translates Bluetooth to something the hearing aid can understand. It “talks” Bluetooth on one side (i.e. phone, music player, etc) and it “talks” with the hearing aid on the other side.

  -  Read more on Bluetooth and hearing aids here.

FM systems

FM system is a generic name for many solutions that rely on FM as the communication method. FM system can be relevant to you whether you use a hearing aid or whether you just have some level of hearing loss.

A typical FM system has two components:

  1. Transmitter, with a microphone, located next to the spokesman/TV/sound source.
  2. Receiver, located next to you, or on you.

FM system can be used as a personal system (i.g classroom) or for public usage (i.g theater).

  -  Read more on FM systems and hearing aids here.

Wireless Accessories by the Hearing Aids Companies

Here are some of the companies that offer wireless hearing aids or some wireless solution to the issues I just covered. It is really a partial list.

Siemens

Tek, Minitek, ePen, ProPocket.

Phonak

Phonak FM receiver.

Starkey

Surflink mobile, Surflink media.

Beltone

MyPAL, The Beltone Direct TV Link, Beltone Phone Link, remote control.




Important note and a disclaimer

I write this for the sake of hearing aids users that find themselves confused by all the wireless terminology and misunderstandings. Therefore, I try to keep things as simple as possible and I simplify things to make them clearer. In addition, the discussion here is in the context of hearing aids and hearing aids’ users. I don’t try to cover the entire wireless world here, and therefore, all the data is observed from the angle of a hearing aid user and for his/her benefit.





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