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What is a Hearing Aid Compatible Phone?

What is a Hearing Aid Compatible Phone? - Hearing, Balance and Speech Center

We’re living in unprecedented times. It’s estimated that one third of the global population are under restrictions as governments try to stem the spread of COVID-19. For over 1 billion of us, that translates into a “lockdown.” People are advised that they should not be leaving their home unless it is essential. This virus is likely to indefinitely change our world.

As humans, we are inherently social animals. The inability for us to go out and socialize with friends and family can impact our physical and mental wellbeing.

To help maintain a sense of social connection, more and more of us are turning to technology. Phone calls, live video calls, online ‘hangouts’ are becoming the new norm.

For the estimated 35 million Americans with a hearing impairment, talking on the phone can present unique challenges. Fortunately, recent legislation has mandated that wireless phones should be hearing aid compatible (HAC).

What is a Hearing Aid Compatible Phone?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “requires wireless phones and wireline telephones to be compatible with (do not cause interference with) hearing aids, and requires wireline telephones to provide sufficient volume” (source).

To comply a device must:

  • “Provide minimal interference;
  • Offer sufficient volume control; and
  • Be compatible when interacting with the magnetic coils of hearing aids.”

Choosing A Hearing Aid Compatible Phone

The FCC ruling is wonderful news for hearing aid wearers. However, it’s important to understand how to choose the right phone for you. Consider the severity of your hearing loss, and then consider which available features will benefit you most.

Mild to Moderate

Within this range of hearing impairment, you should find that your hearing device works automatically with your chosen phone. This is due to ‘acoustic coupling’, basically the microphone inside your hearing aid will sense the sounds from the phone (and the background). Look for phones with high ‘M’ ratings, (M4 is the highest). As these exclude the most background noise.

Severe

Use your hearing aids telecoil feature by switching it on and choosing a phone that can connect to it. This feature works by sending sound direct to the processor instead of the microphone, thereby reducing background noise and feedback. Most cellphones/smartphones are usually rated as T4 which is the highest and most suitable rating.

Features

Phones have a variety of available features to choose from. Remember that smartphones also have the option of adding useful applications (apps) such as vibrating alarms, learning ASL and more. Our blog on cell phone features for the hearing impaired can help you determine which features can most benefit you.

We’re Here to Help You!

Early detection and treatment is the best way for you to keep your hearing healthy. The hearing professionals at Hearing Balance & Speech would be happy to discuss your hearing health. We’d also be happy to offer you a hearing assessment to establish your baseline hearing. Request an appointment online today.

Research / Sources

  1. https://www.healthyhearing.com/help/assistive-listening-devices/hearing-aid-compatible-phones
  2. https://www.healthyhearing.com/help/hearing-aids/bluetooth
  3. https://www.fcc.gov/hearing-aid-compatibility-and-volume-control