Hearing Aid Accessories
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 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 hearing specialist or the hearing aid manufacturer. The telecoil feature helps a patient use a telephone without the annoying whistling that can occur if hearing aids are covered. This feature can be manual or automatic depending on the hearing aid model.
HAC (Hearing Aid Compatible) devices and accessories support hearing aids that have the telecoil feature.
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 a Bluetooth Streamer?
Most manufacturers offer Bluetooth enabled remotes or ‘streamers’. These ‘pair’ or connect to cellphones, MP3 players, TV transmitters, and other devices, and wirelessly transmit the signal directly into the patient’s hearing aids. They are discreet and very efficient for hearing cell phone conversations, listening to music or tv, and listening to companions in noisy environments. They also enable the hearing aid wearer to hear the signal through both ears instead of just one, which greatly improves understanding.
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.
Many of our hearing aids now offer an optional charger. These are perfect for patients who have difficulty handling small hearing aid batteries due to vision or dexterity issues, or who simply want the convenience of recharging vs. changing batteries once a week. We have several rechargeable options, and some may be retrofit for certain older models. Some offer the option of rechargeability or regular battery use, which can be helpful for travelers who don't want take the charger on trips. Most chargers have an added benefit of drying the instruments during the charge cycle. This is by far our most requested accessory!
Often patients want to be able to control their instruments discreetly, or use a remote control simply because it's easier for them to handle. We offer several remotes as options for some of our hearing aids, and if you're a smartphone user there are apps available absolutely FREE that turn your phone into a remote control for your aids. The apps also offer additional functions that regular remotes don't have.