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Talking with Confidence on Telephone

May 31st, 2011 by | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Holding conversations on telephones can be scary for some cochlear implant recipients, but it is not impossible to hear well on the phone.  Cochlear implant recipients who are born deaf or became deaf pre-lingually and receive cochlear implants at a young age can learn to hear very well on the phone as long as the parents provide them with listening and spoken language rehabilitation.  For those who grew up with little benefits from hearing aids but are now hearing with cochlear implants, it is understandable that many struggle to use the phone; however, they should not give up as there are many rehabilitation resources to help improve the telephone skills and there is also a setting on the sound processors to help improve the quality of hearing on the telephone!


How many cochlear implant recipients are aware of telecoil being built into the sound processors?  Telecoil is a tiny coil of wire inside an object such as the telephone or a headphones or a room and it will induce electric current when changing magnetic fields are in presence.  Basically it just means that the sound processor can be connected wirelessly to a microphone or headphones that has induction loops.  Telecoil is an incredible feature on sound processors as it can block out all of the background noise and therefore, the only thing we would hear is the person speaking into the microphone or the sounds that comes through the headphones.  It also brings in crystal clear sounds.

From my personal experiences, I can be in a very very noisy restaurant and hold a telephone conversation very well while using the telecoil!

Most telephones and cell phones come with telecoil compatibility or in other words, a tiny coil of wire inside the phone.  Phones that present ratings of T3 or T4 mean that they meet or surpass the compatibility standard.

As each brand of cochlear implants sets the telecoil differently, here is instructions on setting the telecoil with each different sound processors:

Advanced Bionics:


Here is information from Advanced Bionics’ user manual:

To activate your Telecoil, first consult with your audiologist to determine if a program in your Processor has been created for its use.  If so, your Telecoil will activate once you switch to the designed program.

For your Telecoil to be effective, you must have access to a looped system or a hearing aid-compatible telephone.  This will allow the Telecoil to receive the electromagnetic field generated by these devices.  If you are attempting to use your Telecoil with a noncompatible audio device, you may hear no sound or a low-level humming or buzzing noise.

In additional to an internal Telecoil built into your Processor, an external Auria T-coil is also available should this better meet your lifestyle and needs.  The external T-Coil provides the same access to private and public loop systems and hearing-aid – compatible telephones as our internal Telecoil.  The external T-Coil connects to your Direct Connect Earhook and can be rotated to optimize the electromagnetic field reception.

Here is a note from an Advanced Bionics recipient on utilizing telecoil:

When I tried the telecoil years ago, it picked up a lot of noise. I found out afterwards that the problem was my IDR of 60 or 70dB was too high. The noise goes away when the IDR is reduced to maybe 40 or 50dB.

Advanced Bionics recipients also have a unique feature that no other brands have which is the T-mic. It is an ear hook with a slightly larger bulb at the end of it and it’s a microphone.  According to the recipient, “You can just hold the phone up to your ear and use it naturally.”


Here are a few instructional videos on how to set the telecoil on the Nucleus 5 and Freedom sound processors:

Nucleus® 5:

Nucleus® Freedom:


Opus 2: Telecoil can be accessed by pressing one of these buttons on a remote control: T for Telecoil Only or MT for Microphone and Telecoil Together

Here are instructions along with photos written by Amy K., a parent of two children with MED-EL cochlear implants:

First you sync your processor to the remote.  We never remember which processor is synced, so we always have to start with that.  You do this by positioning the coil on top of the remote and turning your device off and back on with the little door on the battery pack.

Then, you press the T button for Telecoil, MT if you want a mix of microphone on the processor and Telecoil, or M if you want to go back to just using your processor microphone and no telecoil.

The light will blink on the top of your porcessor, under the little clear hook… so if it’s your mom using the remote, she will know it has worked!  If it’s the user, they can tell by the sound! We find all of the MED-EL user guides very simple, and there are lots of options that we don’t need but which can be used for other situations!

Click here for more information on using telecoil on MED-EL’s sound processors with the telephone.

Here is another note from Amy:

Ok, so we’ve successfully used telecoil for a conversation between my iphone, with me outside, and Elliot using ONLY telecoil (so microphone off) with our house phone. It has a setting with microphone on, too, but Ollie was making noise so I thought we should try it without. He said it was nice and loud, perhaps better than he usually hears on the phone, at least a little. The telecoil setting is accessed by using our little remote and pressing T or MT or M on the buttons. The remote has to be synced first, as we tend to just use any of the remotes for any of the CIs– the remotes can work for any MED-EL Opus when you hold them up to the remote and turn them off and on.

Rehabilitation Tools

Telephone with Confidence - A rehabilitation tool created by Cochlear that focuses solely on improving telephone speaking skills.

Telephone Training Tips - A PDF file by MED-EL on practice tips.

Click here to read some advice from Elizabeth on telephone practice!

Choosing a Telephone Brand

There is no best telephone brand.  Every cochlear implant recipient has their own unique preference of telephone brand as everyone’s hearing loss is different.  The best advice I’ve been given and have used is going to a store that have displays of telephones and testing them out.  Testing the phones out by listening to voice recordings works great because cochlear implant recipients can determine the clarity of sounds.  If you’re a US residence, check out Phone Scoop, a website that will allow you to search for a phone with hearing aid and telecoil compatibility.

Hands-Free Cellphone Options:



While cochlear implant recipients are driving, they should certainly be using a hands-free set.  There is one great hands-free set that I’ve personally used and that is Hatis.  Hatis simply looks like a flat version of a hearing aid with cords running below it.  The recipients can place the earpiece next to the sound processors and then turn on the telecoil on their sound processors.  Hatis can be purchased by clicking here.



Artone Bluetooth



Artone is a bluetooth device that can be worn around a cochlear implant recipients’ neck.  This device is connected to the sound processor by using the telecoil.  Artone can be found at these following sites:



Happy Hearing on the telephone!


*DISCLAIMER* I am not an audiologist and please use these instructions at your own discretion.  This post is not endorsed by Advanced Bionics, Cochlear and MED-EL.  The views expressed here are solely my own.


May 31, 2011 at 2:32 am

The T-mic is NOT ” an ear hook with a slightly larger bulb at the end of it on the Harmony sound processor”. The earhook is the microphone. It uses the natural sound gathering properties of your ear (you know that humans are supposed to get sound information from that location rather than the top of the ear, where typical mics are) to help AB users use phones typically (as well as hear better in all situations.)


August 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm

My niece, born profoundly deaf, got a cochlear implant in 1 ear at 15 mo. old (at NYU), back in 1996. She speaks very clearly. She has trouble hearing on the phone – landline and cell. Any suggestions to help? She is starting her senior year of H.S., then off to college. Being able to hear on the phone is critical.