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Hearing Devices to Carry HAC Info: Consumers to Benefit

Alexandria, VA, July 13, 2007 --- The Hearing Industries Association (HIA) notified the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that its members would voluntarily include information about hearing aid compatibility with digital cellular telephones (HAC) in the materials that accompany the sale of relevant hearing aid models. This collaboration has involved the FDA, the cell phone manufacturers, the FCC, and HIA.

In a letter to Linda Kahan, Deputy Director of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), HIA provided the language that hearing aid companies will supply regarding immunity to digital cell phone emissions. HIA also advised the Agency that the information below will be included in the user brochure.

Some hearing aid users have reported a buzzing sound in their hearing aids when they are using cell phones, indicating that the cell phone and hearing aid may not be compatible. According to the ANSI C63.19 standard (ANSI C63.19-2006 American National Standard Methods of Measurement of Compatibility Between Wireless Communications Devices and Hearing Aids), the compatibility of a particular hearing aid and cell phone can be predicted by adding the rating for the hearing aid immunity to the rating for the cell phone emissions. For example, the sum of a hearing aid rating of 2 (M2/T2) and a telephone rating of 3 (M3/T3) would result in a combined rating of 5. Any combined rating that equals at least 5 would provide normal use; a combined rating of 6 or greater would indicate excellent performance.

The immunity of this hearing aid is at least M2/T2. The equipment performance measurements, categories and system classifications are based upon the best information available but cannot guarantee that all users will be satisfied.

NOTE: The performance of individual hearing aids may vary with individual cell phones. Therefore, please try this hearing aid with your cell phone or, if you are purchasing a new phone, be sure to try it with your hearing aid prior to purchase. For additional guidance, please ask your cell phone provider for the booklet entitled "Hearing Aid Compatibility with Digital Wireless Cell Phones."

In announcing the voluntary information program, HIA Chairperson Cathy Jones, President/CEO of Phonak US., noted, "Since the issue of digital cell phone interference with hearing instruments was first reported, HIA's manufacturing members have worked diligently toward a solution to enable device wearers in the US to benefit from the latest hearing instrument technology while having access to the broadest possible range of cell phone technologies. HIA is grateful to its engineers and hearing instrument designers for their rapid and comprehensive solutions to these problems and the Association acknowledges the collaboration of the wireless industry.

We have a shared goal of providing equal access to consumers with hearing disabilities. We are pleased that our hearing device wearers will be able to use this information and the phone labeling mandated by the FCC to match the function of their hearing instruments and cell phones successfully. Both industries are innovating at a very rapid rate. Ongoing collaboration is a must. We will strive towards continued improvement in all communication channels for the hearing impaired.

Hearing device manufacturers will begin immediately to incorporate the information in new hearing device models for which it is relevant and in the reprinting or revisions to the user information brochures for models already on the market. The wireless industry is providing similar information in a brochure available at phone retail outlets and is training retail sales staff to assist hearing aid users with instrument awareness in the purchase of appropriate phone models.

HIA, headquartered in Alexandria, VA, is the national trade association of manufacturers of hearing aids, hearing devices, assistive listening devices, component parts and power sources for amplification devices.

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