It’s not hard to see how smartphones have revolutionized how we communicate. It’s estimated that 77% of Americans have a smartphone, and that number is only set to rise.
If you have a hearing impairment, communication on the phone can be more complicated, particularly if you are a hearing aid wearer. However, in a ruling celebrated by many, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now mandates that wireless phones and wireline telephones be compatible with hearing aids. These are known as hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules.
What is a Hearing Aid Compatible Phone?
According to the FCC, in order for a phone to be certified under the hearing aid compatible rules, it should:
- “Provide minimal interference;
- Offer sufficient volume control; and
- Be compatible when interacting with the magnetic coils of hearing aids.”
HAC phones simplify telephonic communication for hearing aid wearers. But how do you know which HAC phone is right for you? The first thing to consider is the severity of your hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Severity
With a mild to moderate hearing loss, your hearing aid should automatically work with your phone via ‘acoustic coupling’. The microphone within your device will pick up the sounds from the phone, but it will also pick up background noises too. Phones with high ‘M’ ratings are most suitable, as they help most with background noise. (M4 is the highest).
Look for a phone with a high ‘T’ rating (most smartphones/cell phones have the highest T4 rating). This means the phone will work with your hearing aids telecoil feature, which you may need to manually switch on. This bypasses the hearing aid microphone to send sound direct to the processor thereby reducing background noise and feedback.
Mobile Phones vs Landlines
The FCC regulation stipulates that all smartphones/mobile devices, workplace, public and emergency phones must be hearing aid compatible (HAC). However, if you are buying a home phone you will need to check that it is HAC. M and T ratings apply to all phones, so it’s up to you to decide if you want the flexibility of using your phone away from home or not.
Audionics helps people reconnect through better hearing everyday.
At Audionics, we want to help you reconnect through better hearing. If you’d like to discuss HAC phones and appropriate styles of hearing aids, come in and meet our hearing care professionals. To start the conversation call us on 212-755-5100 or click here to book a consultation.