Televisions are becoming bigger, cheaper, and offer more ways to watch a variety of programming. Hearing aid users now have more options to get the most out of their dazzling new flat screens than ever before. That’s a good thing, because the speakers, though serviceable, are not what they used to be due to the nature of televisions becoming so compact. New models rarely even have speakers that face towards the viewer. The following list shows the options the hearing impaired now have to hear their televisions more accurately.
- A soundbar is a speaker that sits directly under or above a television and is meant to deliver clear dialogue. This is the best way to hear programs such as the news or other dialogue centric programming and should benefit the quality of sound for everyone in the room, not just hearing aid users.
- Streaming devices are available from each hearing aid manufacturer. These can link your hearing aids directly to your television set to feed the sound to your hearing aids via a bluetooth signal. The advantage is having full immersion into the television viewing experience. Unfortunately, there is no umbrella device that works for all hearing aid brands.
- Headsets from brands such as TV Ears and Sennheiser can feed sound directly to a television viewers ears without the use of hearing aids. These could be handy for anyone who wants to hear the television without the volume being on for everyone in the room to hear. Households with unconventional sleep schedules or young children could benefit from a set so the user can listen at a suitable volume without disturbing others.
- Closed captioning is the oldest and most reliable tool for television and hearing loss. It’s free with almost all viewing platforms and is simple to turn on or off. It works particularly well with programming that isn’t live. News and sporting events are bad fits for closed caption because a typist is trying to type the text on the fly as they hear it. With fast talking news anchors and sports analysts, this can be challenging and result in many typos and symbols scrolling down your tv screen. Captioning is very accurate and well timed for the majority of other content available on your television, whether from a streaming platform or your Blu-ray player. For more information on how to use closed captioning, click here.
- Telecoil, or t-coil is a small copper coil in a hearing aid that acts as an antenna for a sound system. Consider this to be the AM/FM of hearing aid connectivity. T-coil is still very serviceable but is becoming obsolete in newer hearing aid models that utilize bluetooth signals. A t-coil connection requires a receiver box that connects to a sound source and a wire loop in the room where the user sits. If your hearing aid has a t-coil component, look for the sign that implies that a t-coil loop is in place. They’re common at banks, churches, and theaters where a microphone can pick up the speaker’s voice and transmit it to the t-coil.
At UpState Hearing, several staff members can share their preferences for how they optimize their own television viewing and listening experience.
Ken Wood says, “I use both closed caption and wireless bluetooth capability of my hearing aids, works great!”
Justin Forbes says, “Personally, I use closed caption along with a quality soundbar.”
Scott Morris says, “I like to watch TV with a beer, with the sound streaming directly to my hearing aids via the Oticon TV Link.”