Hearing Aids and Cell Phones

Hearing Add CompatibleSample hearing Aid Compatible tag

Hearing Aids and Cell Phones – Compatibility Guide

There is now great news for individuals with Hearing Aids or a cochlear implant who wish to buy or use a Cell Phone.

New rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) require cell phone makers and service providers to make phones work better for people using hearing aids and cochlear implants. These rules require:

  • Less static
  • Less interference
  • Better telecoil connections

How do I find out if a cell phone is hearing Aid compatible?

Sample hearing Aid Compatible tag

Sample hearing Aid Compatible tag

Look at the label – New Rules require that hearing Aid Compatible Cell Phones should be labeled with the “HAC” Tag!
To find out if a cell phone is hearing aid compatible (HAC), look for the label in one of these places:

  • On a card next to the phone on display at the cell phone store
  • On the cell phone package
  • In the cell phone users manual

If you cannot find the label in any of these places, the phone is not HAC.

Before you buy a cell phone, you should try different brands and models to see which phone works best for you.
You can visit the FCC website to review the Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating for each cell phone.
http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac/index.htm?job=reports_dm

Important Points to Remember:

  • Cell phones that work well with hearing aids will have a microphone (M) rating of M3 or M4.
  • If you have a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a telecoil, you need to look for a phone that has a telecoil (T) rating of T3 or T4. (Remember, a higher T rating will make your conversations clearer and crisper)
  • Most new hearing aids will have an M2/T2 rating. Ask your audiologist about the rating of your hearing aid. The rating system is not required for cochlear implants.
  • Phones with an M-Rating of M3 or M4 meet FCC requirements and are less likely to generate interference to hearing devices than phones that are not labeled.
  • M4 is the better/higher of the two ratings.
  • Phones with a T-Rating of T3 or T4 meet FCC requirements and are more likely to work well for people who use hearing aids with telecoils with telephones.
  • T4 is the better/higher of the two ratings.

We also provide the ratings as of June 2012 Ratings listed by Wireless Carrier (613 pages)

FCC Quick hearing Aid and Cell Phone Guide 

Quick Ratings –

Basic Handsets

Kyocera Dura XV M4/T4
LG Cosmos™ 3 M4/T4
LG Exalt™ M4/T4
LG Extravert™ M4/T4
LG Revere® 3 M4/T4
Samsung Convoy™ 3 M4/T4
Samsung Gusto® 3 M4/T4

Advanced PDA, Blackberry® and Smartphones

Device Rating
Apple® iPhone® 5c M3/T4
Apple® iPhone® 5s M3/T4
Apple® iPhone® 6 M3/T4
BlackBerry® Classic M3/T4
Blackberry® Z30 M3/T4
DROID 4 by Motorola M4/T4
DROID MAXX by Motorola M3/T4
DRIOD MINI by Motorola M3/T4
DROID RAZR M by Motorola M4/T4
DROID RAZR MAXX by Motorola M4/T3
DROID Turbo by Motorola M4/T3
DRIOD ULTRA by Motorola M3/T4
Enact™ by LG M4/T4
Google Nexus 6 M4/T4
HTC Desire® M4/T3
HTC One® M3/T4
HTC One® remix M3/T3
LG G3 M3/T3
LG G Vista M4/T4
Lucid™ by LG M3/T4
Lucid™ 3 by LG M4/T4
Samsung ATIV SE™ M4/T3
Samsung Galaxy Note® 4 M4/T3
Samsung Galaxy S® 4 M3
Samsung Galaxy S® 4 mini M3/T3
Samsung Galaxy S® 5 M3/T3
Samsung Galaxy S® 6 M4/T3
Samsung Galaxy S® 6 Edge M4/T3
Sony Xperia® Z3v M4/T3
Windows Phone 8X by HTC M4/T4

 

People who wear hearing aids or have implanted hearing devices may experience some difficulties when trying to use cell phones. Some cell phones cause radio frequency interference with hearing aids, so the user hears high-pitched whistling sounds, buzzes, or static.

Fortunately, both cell phones and hearing aids are improving. Some phones have lower radio frequency (RF) emissions or different technology that can reduce the unwanted effects on hearing aids.

The FCC, accessibility advocates, hearing aid industry and wireless industry representatives created a rating system to help consumers with hearing aids find a compatible wireless device. HAC ratings show how the wireless device will work with the hearing aid in microphone mode (“M”) and in telecoil mode (“T”). Only devices that meet the minimum rating for HAC, “M3” or “T3,” and higher are labeled. A higher “M” rating means it’s more likely your hearing aid will work with a cell phone when your hearing aid is set to microphone mode. A higher “T” rating means a better chance that your hearing aid will work with a cell phone when your hearing aid set to the telecoil mode. Information about whether a wireless device is rated for HAC can be found in three places: 1) on the display cards next to devices in retail stores; 2) on wireless device packaging; and 3) in the product’s manual or packaging insert. Hearing loss and hearing aids are highly individualized, so always try a wireless device in the store to see how it works before you buy it. If you can’t find an accessible cell phone, talk with a hearing healthcare professional or wireless carrier representative about accessible options and which phones work best with Assistive Technology like TTYs, neckloops, and relay services

Hearing Aid Compatibility Act
Background

The Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 (HAC Act) requires that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ensure that all telephones manufactured or imported for use in the United States after August 1989, and all essential telephones, are hearing aid-compatible. Essential telephones are defined as coin-operated telephones, telephones provided for emergency use, and other telephones frequently needed for use by persons using such hearing aids.Essential phones might include workplace phones, phones in confined settings (like hospitals and nursing homes), and phones in hotel and motel rooms. Secure phones, approved by the U.S. Government to transmit classified or sensitive conversations, and phones used with public mobile and private radio services, are exempt from the HAC Act.

In 2003, the FCC set a timetable for the development and sale of digital wireless phones that are compatible with hearing aids and cochlear implants, used by the hearing-impaired to improve hearing ability. This timetable increases the number of digital wireless phones that are hearing aid-compatible. In June 2005, the FCC modified the preliminary handset deployment benchmarks specific to Tier I wireless service providers (nationwide providers such as Sprint-Nextel, Verizon Wireless, Cingular, and T-Mobile). The FCC did not modify the preliminary deployment benchmark obligations for handset manufacturers of Tier II or Tier III (non-nationwide) wireless service providers.

Hearing Aid-Compatibility for All Phones

A telephone that is hearing aid-compatible has an internal feature that allows the use of telephone-compatible hearing aids. FCC rules require that phones subject to the HAC Act: (1) produce a magnetic field of sufficient strength and quality to permit coupling with hearing aids that contain telecoils; and (2) provide an adequate range of volume.

A telecoil is a small, tightly-wrapped piece of wire that, when activated, picks up the voice signal from the electromagnetic field that leaks from compatible telephones. Users of telecoil-equipped hearing aids are able to communicate effectively over the telephone without feedback and without the amplification of unwanted background noise.

A volume control feature permits the user to adjust the level of sound emanating from the handset or headset receiver. It allows telephones to be used effectively by persons with hearing aids, and by other persons with a hearing impairment who do not use hearing aids.

Rules on Hearing Aid-Compatibility for Digital Wireless Phones

Although analog wireless phones do not usually cause interference with hearing aids or cochlear implants, digital wireless phones sometimes do because of electromagnetic energy emitted by the phone’s antenna, backlight, or other components. Therefore, the FCC set specific hearing aid-compatibility rules for digital wireless phones.

Applicable Technical Standards

The performance levels set forth in ANSI C63.19 (a technical standard established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)) are the applicable standard for compatibility of digital wireless phones with hearing aids. ANSI C63.19 contains two sets of standards: one for reduced radio frequency (RF) interference to enable acoustic coupling with hearing aids that do not operate in telecoil mode, and a separate standard to enable inductive coupling with hearing aids operating in telecoil mode. A digital wireless handset is considered hearing aid compatible for acoustic coupling if it meets a U3 or M3 rating under the ANSI standard. A digital wireless handset is considered hearing aid compatible for inductive coupling if it meets a U3T or T3 rating under the ANSI standard.

Deployment Benchmarks

By September 16, 2005, each digital wireless handset manufacturer had to make available to carriers, and each carrier providing digital wireless services had to make available to consumers, at least two U3/M3-rated handsets for each air interface it offers.

By September 16, 2006, each Tier I wireless carrier offering digital wireless services had to make available to consumers, per air interface, five U3/M3-rated handsets, or twenty-five percent of the total number of handset models it offers nationwide.

By September 18, 2006, each digital wireless handset manufacturer had to make available to carriers, and each carrier providing digital wireless services had to make available to consumers, at least two U3T/T3-rated handsets for each air interface it offers.

Fifty percent of all digital wireless handset models offered by manufacturers or carriers must meet a U3/M3 standard by February 18, 2008.

Labeling and In-Store Consumer Testing of Digital Wireless Handsets

Packages containing compliant handsets must be explicitly labeled and must include detailed information in the package or product manual.

Wireless service providers must provide a means for consumers to test hearing aid-compatible handset models in their owned or operated retail stores.

De Minimis Exception

Wireless service providers and handset manufacturers that offer two or fewer digital wireless handsets in the U.S. for a particular air interface need not comply with the hearing aid compatibility compliance obligations.

Wireless service providers and handset manufacturers that offer three digital wireless handsets in the US for a particular air interface must make at least one compliant handset model available.

For additional information about the FCC’s actions with regard to hearing aid-compatible telephone equipment and other steps the Commission has taken to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to telecommunications services, please go to www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro. You may also contact the FCC’s Consumer Center at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice, or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY.

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