Not everybody will be able to use a phone with a cochlear implant. Solutions range from using the phone normally all the way to using a Bluetooth wireless receiver, followed by a patch cord to your direct audio input. For cell phones, make sure to get one rated M4/T4. The M rating describes how well it works with a microphone. And the T rating refers to the strength of the field that your telecoil will experience. Your wireless carrier can tell you the M/T ratings of any phone that you are considering.
What is a “telecoil?”
The most desirable method is normal phone usage. Adjust the position of the telephone so that the speaker is over your processor’s microphone. For most BTE processors, this means holding it at the top of your ear. For the Neptune, you will have to hold it over your headpiece! And if you have a T-mic, you can hold it directly over your ear canal.
All current BTE processors include a built-in telecoil. If you find that outside noise makes it difficult to use the phone, you may want to try the telecoil. Make sure to either have a dedicated telecoil program on your processor, or learn how to turn the telecoil on and off. Nucleus 5 processors have Auto-Telecoil, which turns on the telecoil automatically when you hold the phone up to it. If you find that Auto-Telecoil cuts in and out when you don’t want it to, you can have it disabled and use the processor button or the remote to access the telecoil.
Hold the speaker of the phone over the telecoil. You can’t see the telecoil from the outside of the processor, so have your audiologist show you approximately where it is. And when you are using it, move the phone around until you get the best signal.
Just because your phone is rated T4 doesn’t mean that it will work well with your telecoil right out of the box. Read the instruction manual carefully. Many phones have a ‘telecoil mode’ that increases the power to the coil to optimize performance with your telecoil.
If you have a cell phone with Bluetooth, you can connect to it wirelessly with this Bluetooth Headset. This small device has a Bluetooth receiver, a microphone for your phone calls, and a jack for earbuds or headphones. If you have one implant, and would like to use direct connect, just plug a 3.5mm stereo patch cord from the headphone jack to your direct connect input. If you have two implants and would like to use direct connect, be sure to separate the left and right channels with this splitter, so that you can listen to music in stereo when you are not on the phone.
All this buys you compared to plugging the phone into your processor(s) is the wireless connectivity. You can keep the phone in your pocket or bag, and answer it without fishing it out. The sound is piped directly to your implant processors, and the unit has a mike on it so the other party can hear you.
Any MP3 player or phone that supports Bluetooth A2DP will be able to stream music to this receiver. You can also buy a small Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the headphone jack of your MP3 player.
If you are feeling adventuresome, you may want to try this ridiculously inexpensive Bluetooth receiver.
If you use telecoil mode, and would like to wirelessly connect to your phone with Bluetooth, you can have your cake and eat it, too! Try this Bluetooth neck loop adapter.
If you use direct connect and have bilateral implants, you will likely hear better on the phone when you pipe the sound to both implants. While phone calls are not stereo, you should still use a splitter to separate the channels on your phone. Most likely your phone can also play music, and has a stereo socket for headphones.