NJ Department of Human Services: Monthly Communicator: How To Buy A Cell Phone When You Have A Hearing Loss

Purchasing a cell when you have a hearing loss can be a daunting task. How do consumers know which cell phones work for their hearing needs? Why do some cell phones work for some people with a hearing loss but not others?

The ‘Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Fact Sheet on Hearing Aid Compatibility for Wireless Telephones’ provides an excellent overview of this topic: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/hac_wireless.html.

The ATIS Hearing Aid Compatibility Incubator and CTIA-The Wireless Association Brochure on Hearing Aid Compatibility for Wireless Telephones and Services is another resource: http://www.accesswireless.org/files/pdf/HACBrochure.pdf.

Notwithstanding these resources, consumers are still confused by the process. Our family found the choices overwhelming and the terminology baffling when we went to purchase a cell phone for our
daughter who has a hearing loss. I was surprised since I am on the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee and have access to people such as Brenda Battat (who is now Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America) and Linda Kozma-Spytek (Research Audiologist at Gallaudet University). During our family’s quest, I developed the following decision tree.

1. What do the ratings mean?
Effective September 16, 2006,
the FCC mandated that cell
phone providers must offer at
least two handset models that
have a minimum M3/T3 rating.
The M rating (M3 or 4) represents microphone interference potential to a hearing aid from the cell phone and the T rating (T3 or 4) represents the telecoil coupling capability of the cell phone. The higher the rating, the more likely the cell phone will be compatible with the hearing aid.

Click to access MCSep08.pdf

Republished in Volta Voices


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