M and T Hearing Aid Ratings Explained
Wednesday, 10 July 2019
If you are looking at a hearing aid compatible phone for yourself, or for a loved one, you've probably come across phones with an M or a T rating – or both! But what are good M and T ratings, and what do they mean? This is M and T Hearing Aid Ratings Explained.
General Tips for Using a Mobile Phone with Hearing Loss
Whether you are using a smartphone, or prefer to stick with a conventional mobile phone, it can be tricky to find something that works for your hearing aid. Fortunately, hearing aid compatibility is more common than ever in phones, particularly in smart phones.
Generally speaking, the more powerful your hearing aid, the more likely you are to experience interference. Those with higher degrees of hearing loss are more likely to need to use the Telecoil and will also generally experience more severe effects from a low M or T rated phone.
What Is a Telecoil?
T ratings apply to phones that contain a Telecoil. A Telecoil is a small wire coil that creates a magnetic field and transfers sound along it to any hearing aids in the area on the proper setting. This setting will be known as the hearing loop or T setting depending on the age of your hearing aid, and should turn on/off with a switch on your hearing aid.
Once you have a hearing aid compatible smartphone, you may need to turn on a setting on the phone. If you have difficulty locating this setting, the best thing to do is consult the manual that comes with your phone. Once on, it will allow your phone to send sound directly into your ear, which has the benefit of obscuring any background sound.
Phones Without Telecoils
Poor-quality microphones can result in painful and distracting feedback when used alongside your hearing aid's standard receiver, but even phones without a dedicated Telecoil can be effective to use with certain hearing aids if they have a high-quality microphone. Since not all phones general market phones have an M rating, the best way to know if a phone works with your hearing aid is sometimes to try it yourself. When this isn't a possible, an M rating is an excellent indicator.
A Guide to M (Microphone) Ratings
M ratings (or Microphone ratings) are recorded on a scale from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best rating. For instance, a phone rated M4 will be highly compatible with hearing aids and result in very little or no feedback, whereas a phone rated M1 will be very inappropriate for a hearing aid user.
A Guide to T (Telecoil) Ratings
Just because your phone contains a Telecoil, it does not mean it will create the same quality signal as all other phones, and there is a large amount of variation among hearing aid compatible phones. Some will pick up feedback when the phone is too near to your head, resulting in a humming or whistling sound. T ratings are an excellent tool to help you understand the quality of Telecoil in your new handset.
Like M ratings, T ratings (or Telecoil ratings) are on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest. For instance a T1 phone is likely to have a weak loop signal, and more likely to result in feedback. A T4 phone, on the other hand, is very unlikely to cause feedback.
Tips for Reducing Feedback
One of the most immediate ways to reduce feedback is to hold the phone slightly further away from your head when listening, by as much as one or two inches. This should prevent the microphone input on your phone from being fed back through your hearing aid
It is also worth experimenting with whether or not you use the hearing loop in your phone. If their phone has a good M rating, some people find that the signal is better and easier to hear when picked up through their standard hearing aid microphone than through the Telecoil.
Another solution, if your hearing aid is compatible, is to connect directly to your phone's Bluetooth and stream your mobile's sound directly into your ear. If you plan on doing this you will need to make sure that your new phone is Bluetooth compatible before you buy, and this is often represented by the Bluetooth symbol, as below:
Looking for a Phone
Hopefully this information will help you settle on the right phone for you or your loved one. If you are still looking for a phone, we recommend taking a look at our mobile phone category, which contains a wide selection of amplified and hearing aid compatible mobile phones and smart phones.