For those of you not familiar with this term, let me explain that a telecoil or T-coil is a tiny coil of wire built into most hearing aids that transmits sound through the telephone via an electromagnetic field. It allows those of us with hearing losses to hear on phones that are T-coil compatible. When you activate the T-coil in your hearing aid all you hear is the voice on the phone. It cuts out environmental noises so makes it easier to hear the caller. It’s a great tool but as with everything connected to hearing aids, cochlear implants and other devices that enhance sound, it can be tricky.
I have two stories to tell you. One illustrates using a mountain to solve a molehill problem and the other is just plain odd!
First, the molehill. This story took place about 20 years ago but I still dine out on it and want to share it with you. The job I had at the time required that I spend a fair bit of the day on the phone. My hearing aid was fitted with a T-coil so telephone work was pretty easy for me.
One day when I was on the phone, I heard a very loud buzzing sound in my ear. It was like a series of regularly spaced longish beeps, so loud that I actually couldn’t hear the person on the other end of the phone. I tried the phone in the office next door – same thing. This happened several times over the next week or so and I decided to have my hearing aid checked but it was fine. My hearing aid specialist and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
One morning I had just picked up my phone to make a call and the beeps started. I put the phone down and for some reason happened to look out my office door. I could see one of my colleagues at the photocopier. A little light went on in my head and I picked up my phone again while watching my colleague. Every time he made a copy, the light in the photocopier went on and I heard the beep in my phone. The electromagnetic field was creating this interference. The photocopier had recently been moved and was now too close to my hearing aid.
Well great. Now that I knew what was causing the problem, it would be easy to solve. Just move the photocopier a few metres down the hall out of range of my hearing aid. I’m not sure why this was not a suitable option, but instead of unplugging the photocopier, trundling it down the hall and plugging it in again – five minutes tops; the powers that be decided to move me instead. Luckily my good friend Lois agreed to switch offices with me or who knows where I would have ended up! A full day was spent packing, unpacking, moving furniture and changing telephones, all because the photocopier couldn’t be moved. I never did find out why the photocopier had to stay where it was but it was obviously more important to the efficient workings of the office than me! Making a mountain to solve a molehill problem indeed.
Now for the second story. I was giving a training course in a hotel near the airport and went into one of the small-group rooms to make a phone call. I pressed the switch to activate the T-coil in my hearing aid, picked up the phone and instead of a dial tone I heard a radio station! The electromagnetic field does it again. True story.