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Hearing Aid Phones: Hearing Aid Compatibility Negotiations

As part of an effort to insure that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) considers every technical issue that has an impact on Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) of cellular telephones and other wireless personal communication devices, Hearing Institue of America (HIA) representatives met on October 18 with FCC officials to ask the agency to focus on acoustic coupling between handsets and hearing aids.

Hearing Aids, Hearing Aid PhonesHIA noted that acoustic output of handsets is sometimes inadequate for audio coupling with hearing aids, but this operating characteristic is not addressed in existing regulations. HIA also reported that modern hearing aids include frequency-selective programs designed for different environments the wearer may encounter.

If wireless device manufacturers provided hearing aid manufacturers with more information about the volume, frequency response, and distortion characteristics of their earpieces, hearing aid programs could be tailored to improve performance in the acoustic coupling mode.

However, hearing aid manufacturers are not now getting sufficient information about earpiece performance from wireless device manufacturers and service providers, hampering their ability to insure that people who use hearing aids have full access to modern personal communication devices and can use them in the same way as people with full hearing.

Dave Preves, Senior Staff Engineer with Starkey Labs, reviewed technical details for FCC engineers and provided background on the issue.  HIA also filed formal comments with the FCC on October 25 urging the agency not to exempt categories of cellular telephones or other wireless personal communication devices or to delay HAC compliance for developing technologies as it considers new HAC rules.

Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) filed similar comments with FCC noting that HAC rules “should apply to all emerging wireless voice communication technologies.”  

Join the conversation and let the FCC and hearing aid manufacturers know your position and thoughts on the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act.

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