I am Janice Schacter Lintz, CEO of Hearing Access & Innovations (HAI) (f/k/a Hearing Access Program) and the mother of a 21-year-old daughter who is hard of hearing. I am a former member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Consumer Advisory Committee, appointed for two terms under Chairman Martin. I am also the author of “How to Buy a Cellphone when you have a Hearing Loss,” originally published in Volta Voices (https://janiceslintz.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/vv-cellphone-109.pdf), which was the most frequently downloaded article by Better Hearing Institute when published and the first article that explained to consumers with a hearing loss how to select a suitable cell phone.
I frequently write on topics related to hearing loss and consumer education, and my articles have been published in the Huffington Post. In addition, I worked with Apple to bring hearing induction loops to their US stores. At the time, Apple US was unaware that their United Kingdom operations had hearing induction loops in their stores. Apple added a hearing induction loop to its SoHo (New York City) store and was supposed to roll out loops to all the other US stores but did not do so.
I offer the following supplementary comments in response to Apple’s submitted comment. Apple claims that its “Made for iPhone (“MFi”) hearing aid platform represents a substantial improvement to consumers over devices that are deemed accessible by today’s HAC rules. The platform employs a wireless protocol that incorporates Bluetooth low energy technology to enable compatible hearing aids to interact directly with iPhones and other supported devices via a digital wireless connection. Apple seeks to have the Commission recognize the MFi Hearing Aid Platform as a viable alternative for hearing aid compatibility compliance.
However, Apple’s submission is really about elimination of universal hearing access to ensure proprietary pairing of its products and to drive business to its vendors. We have already seen similar actions by Apple with its other platforms and products. This was my concern when I questioned key staff at a 2014 public FCC meeting.