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Hearing devices and technology

Photo: Using technology to get the most out of hearing aids and implants

Hearing aids, cochlear implants or bone conduction hearing implants can be connected to many different products including smartphones, tablets, TV and radio aids. There are various technologies that can help you do this. These technologies can help you or your deaf child communicate better with others and can let you enjoy entertainment more regardless of where you are.

Here we explain relevant technologies for you.

The T programme

Unlike the standard microphone (M) programme on your hearing device, the T programme (also called the T setting, telecoil or just T) doesn’t amplify sounds – instead it picks up magnetic fields from a loop system and converts these into sounds in the hearing aid or implant itself.

Setting your hearing aids or implants to the T programme could help you hear music, the TV or someone speaking in a public place (through a loop system) much more clearly and with no background noise. 

Loop systems are often installed in loud public places such as train stations, banks, of theatres. Just look for the hearing loop symbol and switch your hearing devices to the T programme. Loop systems can also be used at home when having a conversation on the phone or when listening to music. For example:

  • To hear the TV better you could use use a TV listener with a neckloop or install a room loop system.
  • Portable loop systems, such as earhooks or neckloops can be used to listen to sound on a tablet, laptop or smartphone- simply plug it into the 3.5mm socket, or link Bluetooth neckloops to any devices with Bluetooth.
  • Loop systems are built into the handsets of some home landline phones or smartphones – these are called ‘hearing aid compatible’ phones.

The T programme can be enabled on your hearing aids or implants by your audiologist.

Digital streaming

Using digital technology a digital streamer directly and wirelessly communicates with the hearing aid or implant and links to entertainment devices such as laptops using Bluetooth. Sounds coming from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, TV or landline phone are sent directly to your hearing device without the need for any cables or wires.

Streamers usually send sound signals directly from the source device so that you can enjoy sound that is free of interference, distortion or background noise.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a wireless communication technology (similar to digital streaming) which allows a wide range of devices from different manufacturers to communicate with each other over short distances.

Direct audio input

Direct input shoes can be attached to the bottom of your hearing aids; these shoes have three small holes in their base and allow you to access sound by attaching ear level radio aid receivers or audio direct input leads to the shoe. The sound is then sent directly into the hearing device.

You will need to visit your audiologist to make sure that your hearing aid is set up to work with a shoe and audio direct input leads or ear level radio aid receivers. All hearing aid models will have a specific model of shoe that works with them, so be sure to choose the correct shoe. Cochlear implants and bone conduction hearing implants usually have built-in connections to attach such products.

Implant accessories

There are a range of accessory adapters and leads available for cochlear implants and bone conduction hearing implants which will allow your child to use a direct input shoe or the T programme. For more information on these accessories or leads, please talk to your cochlear implant team or your child’s audiologist.