By Cheri Perazzoli, HLAA-WA President, GITHL Program Chair, HLAA Board Member
The short answer is YES!
You’ve probably heard about new hearing aids, hearables, and even over-the-counter hearing aids popping up on the market, many without telecoils included. And new assistive listening systems such as AuraCast and WiFi promise to be better than our current gold standard hearing loops.
I read a lot about new technologies, and at HLAA-WA and HLAA, we support all effective ways to help people hear better. But right now, many of us in the hearing loss advocacy world—me included—believe that we still need telecoils and hearing loops now and in the near future.
The International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) agrees with us. At the recent IFHOH World Congress in Budapest, there was much discussion about the timeline for Auracast and Bluetooth technologies. Ultimately, IFHOH issued a declaration that states…
“IFHOH foresees a world where FM, IR and hearing loop systems (including those found in taxis, ticket counters, airports, theatres etc.) will function for the foreseeable future alongside Auracast systems.”
The declaration also says that until Auracast becomes widely available, “it is important that globally used and proven systems of Hearing Loops, FM, IR + Telecoils, not be dismissed.”
This declaration is important because it highlights the need to continue to produce hearing aids and cochlear implants that are A+T (Auracast + Telecoil) compatible. Ultimately, to get the most out of your hearing aids today, you need telecoils AND Bluetooth.
Auracast shows promise for being an easy, helpful assistive listening technology in some venues, like airports. However, new technologies don’t become available everywhere overnight. Plus, it’s hard to predict which technology will win the battle of acceptance. Anyone else old enough to remember Betamax home videos? No? That’s because VHS won that battle, followed by DVDs…and now, we all stream our movies instead.
At HLAA-WA, we strongly suggest that you still consider telecoils in your hearing aids. It’s not clear how may new over-the-counter hearing aids will have telecoils, so we encourage you to shop carefully and read the packaging. Not all prescription hearing aids have telecoils, but many do, so ask your audiologist about telecoils, and if you get telecoils, make sure they’re activated and programmed correctly.
For more information about where you can use your telecoils to connect to loops in Washington State, visit us at Let’s Loop Seattle.