What is the induction coil in the hearing aid?
A cochlear implant (CI) or even a normal hearing aid mean an enormous help for a person with hearing problems. Even in acoustically challenging situations, these technical achievements enable better understanding of speech and surroundings. This makes it easier for the affected person to continue to actively participate in life. There are CIs and fully digital hearing aids that are equipped with very many different modern functions. These functions allow disturbing sounds to be filtered out in everyday listening situations. The result: a more pleasant listening experience, free from distracting noise.
However, there can always be comprehension difficulties in public spaces, for example when a venue is sounded over a public address system. Here too, however, there is now a good solution, provided that the hearing aid contains a so-called induction coil or T-coil. The sound transmission is then namely burdened with less background noise and less reverberation.
The importance of an inductive listening system
Music or speech signals can be transmitted by means of an inductive hearing system. The transmission is wireless directly to the hearing aid or to the corresponding cochlear implant by generating an electromagnetic field through a so-called ring loop in the inductive hearing system. The electromagnetic field is then received by the T-coil in the CI or hearing aid and translated into the appropriate sounds for the listener.
Most modern sound reinforcement systems contain such an inductive system. You can find it, for example, in the following devices:
- Mixing console
In a mixing console, the speech or music signal is processed and transmitted to an amplifier via an induction loop. In the inductive hearing system, however, the signal is now not transferred to a loudspeaker, but to a connected ring loop cable that is laid around the room. The cable then supplies the room with the sound signals.
All persons who are within this ring loop area can then receive the sound signals via the T-coil in the respective hearing aid or CI. Rooms equipped with induction loopsare marked with corresponding symbols. The German Hearing Impaired Association provides a good overview of rooms with inductive hearing systems in your area on its homepage.
The use of the T-coil
Very many hearing aids or cochlear implants already have a built-in T-coil. It can be activated either with the program selection button or with a toggle switch. Now voice or music signals are audible exactly as they were picked up and recorded by the microphone. If the signal is not intelligible, the hearing care professional should be consulted,
How to participate in social life again!
Speech transmission using the T-coil works wirelessly. This transmission technology is the only multi-vendor technology and is used both for cochlear implants and hearing aids. It enables people with hearing loss to participate in social life in public spaces. The tiny coil takes up very little space in the hearing aid, so even the small in-the-ear hearing aids can be equipped with it.
Wherever inductive hearing systems are installed, the communication barrier can be overcome via the integrated T-coil. Thanks to the hearing aid equipped with the T-coil, nothing stands in the way of a visit to the cinema or theater! Corresponding events are acoustically fully perceptible again. Likewise exist at the airport, in the train or in the supermarket no more problems, because also there such hearing systems are partly installed.
Acoustically problematic situations also include long distances to the output signal, loud background noise or poor room acoustics. If an inductive hearing system is installed, these problems are easily circumvented. Therefore, it makes sense to ask before attending an event whether there is an inductive hearing system and whether it is switched on.
Questions and answers about the inductive hearing system
Are there any interfering factors that make it impossible to receive signals from the inductive hearing system on the hearing aid?
How well hearing works in a room with an inductive listening system depends directly on how you use and set up the technology
Is it true that both Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom have more inductive systems than Germany?
Yes, that's true, because the world's best-known manufacturers of amplifiers are based in the UK and Sweden, for example. There is a huge market for such equipment there. In Germany, on the other hand, we don't have a single producer. In addition, Scandinavia and Great Britain are generally more advanced in dealing with physical limitations. Here, Germany is still lagging behind somewhat in terms of development. However, there is now a revised standard on barrier-free construction that specifies how public buildings are to be equipped to be barrier-free.
How can I respond if an inductive hearing system is not available at a venue?
There are a total of two other options available for sound transmission in addition to the inductive hearing system: Conceivable would be the transmission by infrared or by radio. Typically, headphones are used in this case. If you have a mild hearing loss, you can remove the hearing aid and put on the headphones instead. However, if you suffer from moderate to severe hearing loss, then induction neck loops are an option. Ideally, you'll use your own, but sometimes event organizers offer such neck ring loops.
What is the level of awareness about inductive hearing aids and hearing loss among the general public?
People who are not hearing impaired themselves often have little ability to put themselves in the shoes of people with hearing loss. A very common assumption is that good loudspeaker systems would already alleviate a large part of the hearing problems. This is of course not the case. Interested outsiders can get a pretty good impression of the problems that hearing impaired people often face by listening to hearing examples. These listening examples then simulate hearing impressions in various difficult situations.