A hearing loop is like a wireless network for hearing aids. An inductive wire loop transmits
sound signals from a microphone, speaker or public address system directly to telecoilequipped
hearing aids or cochlear implants. The telecoil, or t-coil, functions as an antenna,
relaying sounds directly into the ear without background noise.
The technology behind hearing loops is relatively simple. Electromagnetic waves produced by
an electronic sound source such as a microphone induces an analogous current in the copper
loop. The copper telecoil wire in hearing aids and cochlear implants picks up the signal
via induction and transmits it for amplification and transmission out of the hearing device.
The results can be dramatic. In an October 2011 article in The New York Times, composer
Richard Einhorn, who lost most of his hearing at age 57, tells how he felt when he experienced
a hearing loop for the first time at a performance of the musical “Wicked”. “There I
was at ‘Wicked’ weeping uncontrollably – and I don’t even like musicals. For the first time
since I lost most of my hearing, live music was perfectly clear, perfectly clean and incredibly
rich,” he confided to reporter John Tierney.
Boston author and lecturer Nancy Sonnabend first experienced a hearing loop when she
joined the national board of directors for the Hearing Loss Association of America. “All of a
sudden, I could hear. Hearing loops really work!” she says.