My mother has sensorineural hearing loss, and she has worn hearing aids in each ear ever since she was 36. My husband has hearing loss from working with loud machinery, and although he doesn’t wear hearing aids, he misses some tones and quiet speech is sometimes garbled. My friend Angie’s daughter caught a virus several years ago that wasn’t treated quickly enough; the result was that she went profoundly deaf in both ears and has since been fitted with two Cochlear Implants.
My point is that hearing loss and forms of deafness are much more common than you might think.
According to Gaudelet University, “the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students”:
- About 2 to 4 of every 1,000 people in the United States are “functionally deaf,” though more than half became deaf relatively late in life; fewer than 1 out of every 1,000 people in the United States became deaf before 18 years of age.
- However, if people with a severe hearing impairment are included with those who are deaf, then the number is 4 to 10 times higher. That is, anywhere from 9 to 22 out of every 1,000 people have a severe hearing impairment or are deaf. Again, at least half of these people reported their hearing loss after 64 years of age.
- Finally, if everyone who has any kind of “trouble” with their hearing is included then anywhere from 37 to 140 out of every 1,000 people in the United States have some kind of hearing loss, with a large share being at least 65 years old.
Amplicom’s Induction Neckloop, the NL100, is an accessory that lets hearing aid wearers have a hands-free phone conversation without feedback or interference. The NL100 is designed to slip over the wearer’s neck and plugs into any phone that has a 2.5 mm headset jack (or 3.5mm with the included adapter), with no headset required. Designed for wearers of hearing aids with a T-coil, the NL100 may also be used by people with cochlear implants. The Neckloop has a built-in microphone and volume control to 26 dB, and it is designed to be used with hearing aid home phones or with cell phones, which makes it a hands-free mobile phone accessory when in the car.
I was recently offered the chance to check out Amplicom’s new NL100 . Because I do not suffer from significant hearing loss, but I know so many who do, I figured that it would be a simple thing to check this device out; I’d soon find out that I wasn’t quite right about that …
In the Box
- 1 Neckloop
- 1 AAA Alkaline Battery
- 1 Music Player Adaptor (2.5mm x 3.5mm)
- 1 User guide
When the NL100 is removed from the box, it’s not a very impressive looking device; composed of matte silver plastic with black wires coming from its top and bottom, it isn’t going to win any fashion contests. But this isn’t about looking good, it’s all about hearing well, correct?
The NL100 measures about 3″ long x 1.5″ wide x 1″ thick. It has a sliding On / Off switch on the front, along with an LED that glows green when the power is on or red when the battery is low. There is a black neckloop coming out of the device’s top that will fit around the wearer’s neck, and there is a single plug in cable coming from the bottom. At the end of the plug-in cable there is a 2.5mm connector, and since most modern mobile phones and MP3 players use a 3.5mm adapter, one is included.
- Fully compatible with the Amplicom PowerTel™ range
- Quick and simple to plug in and use
- Set your hearing aid to the “T” position for clearer sound without interference
- Integrated microphone
- Volume control up to 26 dB
- Battery status indicator
After connecting the NL100 to the phone:
1. Slide the ON/OFF switch to ON. The green power LED will light up. Important: If the power LED turns red, the battery power is low. The battery should be changed as soon as possible.
2. Switch the hearing aid to T or MT mode.
3. Adjust the volume using the wheel on the NL100.
4. The NL100 is now ready for use and can be used to speak to callers with the built-in microphone.
5. Slide the ON/OFF switch to OFF at the end of the call to save battery power. The power LED will go out
I ran into a bit of a snag when trying to test the NL100 because I didn’t have all the proper equipment necessary in order to make it work. Why not? Because, as alluded to by its name, the Induction Neckloop uses induction to amplify sound from the phone or music player. A T-coil hearing aid or a Cochlear Implant is necessary to actually receive the transmitted sound. Thankfully, my friend Angie’s daughter agreed to test it out. Since she has two Cochlear Implants, Megan was the perfect test subject …
Megan had to visit her audiologist to have her T-coil turned on; she was able to verify that the product works well and was very easy to set up.
Megan did say that she probably wouldn’t use the Neckloop very often. I asked her if it was because it was kind of plasticky and ugly, and she said, “no it’s not ugly, you can hide it. But my Cochlear comes with a cord that attaches to devices that is also easy to use, and I very rarely use it. I think mostly I’ve gotten used to not listening to music so I forget I can now. BUT for anyone who loves music and listens a lot, I would recommend this. And [if someone is worried about or doesn't like the way it looks, then] like I said, you can hide it under a jacket or shirt pretty easily.”
So there you have it; it works as advertised, is easy to operate, and it works well.
The Amplicom Induction Neckloop (NL100) is available from these retailers.
What I Like: Easy to set up (once the wearer’s T-coil is turned on); Easy to operate
What Needs Improvement: Looks plain and is a bit ugly