Hearing Assistance at Plymouth

Pastor Sarai’s sermon on May 21 admonished us to pay attention. It is hard to do that when one can’t hear most of what is going on. In a quick survey of five Plymouth wearers of hearing aids, none knew if their hearing aids had telecoils or not. Do you have hearing aids? Do you have telecoils or not? And how does one find out?

A telecoil (t-coil) is a very small device in some hearing aids that can detect electromagnetic signals from sound systems then amplifies the signal and presents it to the ear through an individual’s hearing aid. The name telecoil originated from the early form of telephones that would emit an electromagnetic signal as well as sound. Hearing aids were subsequently designed to take advantage of that signal. The limiting factor to t-coils is size of the battery case. The coil is about 1/40 the size of a dime. But it can be crowded in the battery case. About 30-40% of hearing aids in the USA have t-coils.

What does this have to do with hearing aids at Plymouth?
Since the renovation of the sanctuary worship space (nave and chancel), we have a wired loop around the perimeter of the room that emits an electromagnetic signal carrying the sound from the church sound system. This loop also surrounds Burling and Greenwood rooms for overflow situations. When the sanctuary sound system is on, the loop picks up transmissions from microphones used by pastors and choir. Additionally, another loop in Waveland Hall is activated when the sound system is in use there.

The loop transmits sound directly to t-coils in hearing aids if the t-coil is activated. If it isn’t activated, the microphone in the hearing aid does the best it can. If t-coil is activated, pastors’ speech should be clear and audible. The microphone in the hearing aid works for talking to the person next to you in the pew, but not in a large space like the church.

How does one know if the hearing aid has a t-coil? And how is it activated?
The simplest method is to talk to one’s audiologist. Further, take off the hearing aid and look at the battery case. There may be a toggle switch or a button on it. It may be labeled T, M, or TM. Those would stand for Telecoil, Microphone, or Telephone and Microphone.

The hearing aid needs clear instruction on what it is
supposed to do:

  • T will allow you to listen to the loop/t-coil. You will be able to hear the church service clearly.
  • M will allow you to hear the person next to you with the microphone on the hearing aid.
  • TM will allow you to do both. You will be able to hear the church service and hear what a someone nearby is saying.


If there is a button on the battery case rather than a toggle, one may need to push it 1, 2, or 3 times to activate the desired function. Best bet: check with your audiologist.

How does one know the public space has a loop?
Look for a sign in the room or on the bulletin/program with a symbol of a blue or black background with two lines and the T. The T is key. Many public spaces such as the Civic Center have a loop.

What about the hearing devices available during church services?
These hearing devices also are connected to the main sound system (just ask one of our Deacons). However, these devices are not engineered to a specific hearing loss. If you have a personal hearing device, it will be calibrated to your needs and work much better for you.

Contact your audiologist or the church office at 515.255.3149.
We can learn this together! See you in church!