As wireless carriers move from analog to digital services, accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing is a concern, Digital technology means more features and improved efficiency – but some digital phones can cause interference for hearing aid users. Some people that use hearing aid devices may experience difficulties when using a wireless phone. The wireless industry and consumer groups representing the hard of hearing have been working for years to study this matter and develop standards and solutions to reduce the likelihood of such difficulties.
The Federal Communications Commission has set forth requirements for wireless carriers and the wireless device manufactures. Much progress has been made and there are now a large number of hearing aid compatible (HAC) devices available to customers. GTA strives to ensure accessibility for all individuals including deaf and hard of hearing. More information can be found at www.accesswireless.org.
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.
Hearing devices may also be measured for immunity to this type of interference. Your hearing device manufacturer or hearing health professional can help you find results for your hearing device. The more immune your hearing aid is, the less likely you are to experience interference noise from the mobile phones and other sources of RF/EMI such as computer monitors and fluorescent lights.
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. T4 is the better/higher of the two ratings. A telecoil is a small device that is built into some hearing aids for use with the telephone as well as assistive listening devices. Not all hearing aids have telecoils.
GTA has worked with handset vendors to introduce HAC phones. Pursuant to FCC guidelines, the handsets listed below have been rates for Hearing Aid Compatibility. These HAC rates, or “M—Ratings” and “T-Ratings” help hearing aid users find the best phone for their needs.
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