Many people who use hearing aids used to have trouble with cell phones. Speech coming through the phone wasn’t loud enough, or the phone caused interference with the hearing aids, leading to feedback and making cell phones difficult to use. But that simply isn’t the case anymore.
The Government Is On Board
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently updated the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act (HAC Act) and passed regulations to increase the number of hearing aid-compatible wireless devices.
The New Rules
The new FCC rules require less static, less interference and better telecoil connections for between hearing aids and cell phones. Given the number of people in the United States who use hearing devices, cell phone makers and service providers have worked hard to ensure their new digital phones meet these standards.
It’s On The Label
The label of your cell phone will tell you whether it is hearing aid compatible. It will either say so on the package of the phone, in the manual that comes with your phone or on the card next to the phone in the store’s display. Make sure you find the “Hearing Aid Compatible” label before you buy a cell phone, to make sure the phone will work for you.
Accessories You Can Use
Several cell phone manufacturers have come out with a neckloop or earhooks to be used with hearing aids or cochlear implants with telecoils. These neckloops and earhooks have microphones included, and plug right into your cell phone, making them easier to use.
Those with in-the-ear hearing aids can use an add-on device that has an earbud. The earbud connects to the cellphone, and has both an amplifier and a microphone.
Wireless (Bluetooth) users can use a device that connects directly to behind-the-ear hearing aids or use neckloops or earhooks.
Know The Rating
Cell phones come with microphone ratings, and the phones that work best with hearing aids or cochlear implants have a rating of M3 or M4.
Cell phones also have telecoil ratings. Again, look for a telecoil rating of T3 or T4 for optimal performance.
If you add up the M rating and the T rating of your cell phone, you’ll get an idea of how well your cell phone will work with your hearing aids.
• If the combined rating is 6: This is considered the “best” rating, giving you excellent performance
• If the combined rating is 5: This is considered the “normal” rating, and is good for regular cell phone use
• If the combined rating is 4: This is considered the “usable” rating, and would be good for short call, but not for longer telephone conversations
With new federal regulations and advanced cell phone and hearing aid technology, there is no reason your hearing impairment should prevent you from using a cell phone. Talk to your audiologist about your needs, and what type of cell phone would work best for you.