FCC Hearing-Aid Compatibility (HAC) Regulations for Wireless Devices
On July 10, 2003, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Report and Order in WT Docket 01- 309 modified the exception of wireless phones under the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 (HAC Act) to require digital wireless phones be compatible with hearing-aids. The intent of the HAC Act is to ensure reasonable access to telecommunications services for persons with hearing disabilities. While some wireless phones are used near some hearing devices (hearing aids and cochlear implants), users may detect a buzzing, humming, or whining noise. Some hearing devices are more immune than others to this interference noise, and phones also vary in the amount of interference they generate. The wireless telephone industry has developed a rating system for wireless phones, to assist hearing device users find phones that may be compatible with their hearing devices. Not all phones have been rated. Phones that are rated have the rating on their box or a label located on the box. The ratings are not guarantees. Results will vary depending on the user's hearing device and hearing loss. If your hearing device happens to be vulnerable to interference, you may not be able to use a rated phone successfully. Trying out the phone with your hearing device is the best way to evaluate it for your personal needs.
M-Ratings: Phones rated M3 or M4 meet FCC requirements and are likely to generate less interference to hearing devices than phones that are not rated. M4 is the better/higher of the two ratings.
T-Ratings: Phones rated T3 or T4 meet FCC requirements and are likely to be more usable with a hearing aid's telecoil than phones that are not rated. T4 is the better/higher of the two ratings. Hearing devices may also be rated.
Your hearing device manufacturer or hearing health professional may help you find this rating. Higher ratings mean that the hearing device is relatively immune to interference noise. The hearing aid and wireless phone rating values are then added together. A sum of 5 is considered acceptable for normal use. A sum of 6 is considered for better use. A sum of 8 is considered for best use. In the above example, if a hearing aid meets the M2 level rating and the wireless phone meets the M3 level rating, the sum of the two values equal M5. This should provide the hearing aid user with “normal usage” while using their hearing aid with the particular wireless phone. “Normal usage” in this context is defined as a signal quality that is acceptable for normal operation. This methodology applies equally for T ratings. The M mark is intended to be synonymous with the U mark. The T mark is intended to be synonymous with the UT mark. The M and T marks are recommended by the Alliance for Telecommunications Industries Solutions (ATIS). The U and UT marks are referenced in Section 20.19 of the FCC Rules. The HAC rating and measurement procedure are described in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C63.19 standard. All devices are tested using the C63.19 2007 Standard unless otherwise noted. Please be aware that some Cincinnati Bell Wireless mobile phones allow users to make voice calls over a wireless broadband internet connection (i.e. Wi-Fi) using what's known as Unlicensed Mobile Access or UMA technology. These phones are identified with "GSM/UMA" in the “Interface” column in the chart below. Please note that such phones have been tested and rated for use with hearing aids for some of the wireless technologies they use (i.e. GSM). However, there may be some newer wireless technologies used in these phones that have not been tested yet for use with hearing aids (i.e. Wi-Fi or UMA). It is important to try the different features of these phones to determine if you hear any interfering noise. Consult with the Cincinnati Bell service representative or the phone manufacturer for information on hearing aid compatibility. If you have questions about return or exchange policies, please consult with a Cincinnati Bell store representative.
Hearing Aid Compatible Mobile Phones
Cincinnati Bell Wireless has devised a good/better/best rating system to assist you in determining which CBW handset will best meet your needs. Handsets are separated into each category based on the following three criteria: 1) the HAC rating, as certified by the handset manufacturer, 2) available handset features (e.g. voice, camera phone, Wi-Fi capability, etc.) and 3) the manufacturer's suggested retail price. It's best to try several models before buying to find the best match for use with your hearing aids. You are welcome to visit a Cincinnati Bell store to test a wireless handset with your hearing aid before making a purchase. Simply look for the M or T rating on the information card for each handset or ask a store representative to try devices that have been designated as "hearing aid compatible."
For information about hearing aids and digital wireless phones FCC Hearing Aid Compatibility and Volume Control: