Although the FCC now requires that hearing aid compatible (HAC) cell phones meet strict guidelines for quality, some hearing aid users wish to further improve their cell phone experience. Add-on devices and cell phone accessories can make cell phones even more compatible with hearing aids.
Many cell phones can be used with hearing aid telecoils. Hearing aid accessories that provide a hands-free option may also be helpful.
What is a Telecoil?
Telecoil (also known as t-switch or t-coil) is a small coil inside of a hearing aid that acts as a magnetic field sensor. The telecoil also senses any oscillating magnetic field (used for FM system and assistive listening devices) a telephone switch feature that is now built in to about 45% of all hearing aids. If you are unsure if your hearing aid has this feature, contact your Audiologist or the hearing aid manufacturer.
You can use a Bluetooth accessory and have a Bluetooth signal sent to your telecoil through a neckloop or earhook silhouette from phones that support Bluetooth technology.
What is a Neckloop?
A neckloop is a necklace-sized wire that connects to many devices including HAC phones and accessories, and can be worn around the neck and adapted to telecoil hearing aids. Neckloops generate a weak magnetic signal that is recognized by the telecoil and amplified by the hearing aid. Neckloops are popular with many hearing aid users because they can drive both hearing aids and do not require wires running to the hearing aids.
What is an Earhook Silhouette?
Like the neckloop, the earhook silhouette creates a magnetic signal that can be recognized by the telecoil in your hearing aid. It can be hooked over your ear, and it nestles adjacent to the behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. It is attached to a thin loop of wire that can be plugged into many devices, including HAC phones and HAC cell phone accessories.
More About Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) Cell Phone Accessories
HAC cell phone accessories are beneficial to hearing aid users for several reasons. They put distance between the hearing aid and the cell phone, which can cut down on any buzzing or feedback, as well as decrease any interference between the two devices.
Some HAC accessories can give you hands-free cell phone usage, which is especially important if you plan on using your cell phone while driving. You may also be able to use the speakerphone function on some devices if you use the microphone mode on your hearing aid.
All major cell phone manufacturers are now required to make HAC cell phones available to hearing aid users, and many also have HAC cell phone accessories available as well.
It’s a good idea to visit your cell phone carrier’s local store and inquire about HAC phones and accessories, as well as try them out in the store with your hearing aid before making a purchase. Trying the phone with the device will give you a good idea of how well the accessory will work for you.
Keep in mind that some phones and devices may work differently once you leave the store, so it is also a good idea to find out about any money-back or satisfaction guarantees.