Hearing aid accessories and related technologies
Loop systems (Telecoil loop systems/T switches)
Loop systems have been used in the UK for many years originally with analogue hearing aids and now with digital aids. Using the loop system usually means that the hearing aid microphone is switched off while the sound from the loop is received by the hearing aid, although aids today can be set up so that you can hear a mixture of both the environment and the loop.
This removes any distance between you and the sound source and reduces or removes background noise, helping you to hear the person speaking more clearly. Loop systems are available in most public buildings (e.g. theatres, churches, supermarket checkouts) as well as being available to buy for personal use at home or as portable solutions for when you are out and about.
If you would like to use a loop system in your daily life make sure that you tell your hearing care professional. Not all hearing aids have the loop system component within them and those that do need it to be switched on in the programming. You can not tell from looking at a digital hearing aid if the loop system has been set up.
On the right is an example of the sign that public buildings will display to tell you that a loop system is available.
FM, or Frequency Modulation is an alternative way for a hearing aid to receive sound. It is widely used in schools. The traditional set up involves a transmitter unit that picks up the sound and a receiver unit that delivers the sound to the person wanting to hear. FM systems are compatible with many digital hearing aids usually by adding a small attachment to the aid.
FM is an effective solution for removing the distance between you and what you want to hear and for reducing or removing the noise in the environment.
Many hearing aids have remote controls available that can help you to operate the aid. They come in a variety of formats from handheld units with large buttons, to those that look like key rings and pens. The basic function of the remote control will allow you to change the volume and the program on your hearing aids without having to touch your aids. Remote controls can be particularly useful if you have trouble feeling and locating the controls on the hearing aids.
The more advanced remote control units offer much more functionality. They enable you to wirelessly connect your hearing aid to different audio devices such as:
- mobile phone
- landline phone
- additional microphone
When using these systems distance and background noise are either reduced or removed. Because the sound is digital it provides a clearer sound without the interference often experienced with alternatives like loop systems.
Hearing aid batteries can be difficult to change for many reasons including their small size and smooth surface.
There are hearing aids available that use rechargeable batteries and come with a recharger unit. To charge hearing aids up they are placed inside the unit while the unit is connected to mains power and, over a period of several hours, will charge the hearing aids up.
At the moment, this type of technology is more readily available through private hearing aid dispensers.
Personal listeners & amplifiers
Some people either prefer not to wear hearing aids at all or do not wear them because of physical factors such as persistent ear infections.
There is a wide range of products available that use headsets (headphones, earphones or bone conduction headsets) that allow you to gain the benefit of listening to amplified and processed sound without the necessity of having to wear hearing aids to do so.
For more information see:
- PC Werth/Comfort Audio
- Sight & Sound
- Hearing Products International
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Updated: September 2014
Review due: December 2015
First published: Tuesday 17 September 2013
Updated: Wednesday 17 August 2016