Hearing Aid Compatibility
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 ("HAC Act"), passing regulations to increase the number of hearing aid-compatible wireless devices. Along with many others in the wireless industry, Cintex Wireless strives to ensure accessibility for all individuals, including deaf and hard of hearing consumers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does hearing aid compatibility (HAC) mean for wireless devices (e.g., Cell Phones and PDAs)?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines HAC for wireless devices in terms of two parameters; radio-frequency (RF) emissions and telecoil coupling. Cell phones are tested to see if they comply with the FCC's definition of hearing aid compatibility.
How will I know if a wireless device is rated for HAC?
Information about whether a wireless device is rated for HAC can be found in three places: 1) on the display cards next to devices in service provider operated retail stores, 2) on the packages containing wireless devices, and 3) in the product's manual or packaging insert. The packages and display cards will be labeled with an "M" and/or "T" and a rating number. Only devices that are rated for HAC will be labeled in this way. If you see an "M3", "M4 T4" or "T3" label on the display card or packaging then the device is HAC compliant. If you have questions about the rating of a wireless device, ask the service provider or device manufacturer for more information.
Are devices rated for HAC more expensive than devices without hearing aid compatibility?
No, the range of features and functions of wireless devices will impact the price, but hearing aid compatibility will not. Service provider owned and operated stores will offer a range of devices with varying features and prices.
What if I cannot find a wireless device that works with my hearing aid?
You can check with your hearing healthcare professional to determine if there is a hearing aid option for you that may work better with wireless devices. Some telecoil users may find that accessories such as neckloops may further assist with their use of wireless devices.
How can I be "hands free" while using my wireless device?
Many states now require "hands free" driving while using wireless devices. If you use a telecoil, you may be able to use a neckloop. If you use the microphone mode in your hearing aid, you may be able to use the speaker phone function available on some wireless devices. If there is a Bluetooth accessory for your hearing aid, it may be able to work with Bluetooth enabled wireless devices. Remember safety first while driving.
What does an "M3" or "M4" on the label mean?
A hearing aid uses a microphone to collect and convert sound waves to electrical signals. The hearing aid then amplifies and converts the electrical signals back to audible sounds for the hearing aid user to hear. RF emissions generated by digital wireless phones often interfere with the operation of a hearing aid's microphone, distorting the amplified audible sound. In addition, hearing aid microphones tend to collect ambient noise and amplify these sounds, interfering with the desired audio transmission. To diminish interference between wireless phones and hearing aids, the FCC requires wireless carriers to offer phones that meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C63.19 standard for reduced RF emissions. Wireless phones that comply with the FCC's hearing aid compatibility (HAC) regulations must receive a minimum rating of "M3″ for RF emissions under the ANSI C63.19 standard.
While there is no guarantee, digital wireless phones that receive a minimum of an M3 rating should provide acceptable performance with most hearing aids. Hearing loss and hearing aids are highly individualized, however, so optimal performance cannot be guaranteed. Other factors, such as type of hearing aid device or degree of hearing loss, also can affect a phone's performance for a particular user.
What does a "T3" or "T4" on the label mean?
"T" refers to the device's telecoil coupling ability, and means the device is intended for use with hearing aids in telecoil mode. The higher the "T" rating number on the device, the more likely you will be able to use the device with your hearing aid on the telecoil setting.
What is a telecoil?
A telecoil is a small device that is built into some hearing aids for use with the telephone as well as assistive listening devices. To use the telecoil, generally either the hearing aid is switched to the "T" position or a button on the hearing aid is pushed to select the telecoil program. Some newer hearing aids will automatically switch to telecoil mode when using a phone. The telecoil picks up magnetic fields generated by telephones and converts these fields into sound. Telecoils are particularly useful for telephone communication because they permit the volume control of a hearing aid to be turned up without creating feedback or "whistling," and background noise can be reduced especially when using cell phones in noisy places. To determine whether your hearing aid contains a telecoil and how it is activated, ask your hearing health professional.
What does hearing aid compatibility (HAC) mean for hearing aids?
Using the same measurement standard that wireless devices use to test for HAC, hearing aids can also be tested and rated for compatibility. This standard measures and rates the hearing aid's immunity to the typical electromagnetic outputs from wireless devices. An M1 or T1 is the poorest immunity rating, and an M4 or T4 is the best immunity rating. Your hearing healthcare professional may assist you in determining if your hearing aid has been rated.
How do I know if my hearing aids will work with a particular cell phone? If your hearing aid is rated for HAC like many wireless devices are, then there is a method for prediction: just add the rating of your hearing aid to the rating of the wireless device. A hearing aid rated M2 and a wireless device rated M3 combine to a give an M rating of 5 and would likely provide "normal" use. An M rating combination of 6 would likely provide "excellent performance". The same would be true of T ratings. The higher the combination, the better the user experience is likely to be. Every individual's hearing loss is unique so ratings do not guarantee performance.
Are there wireless devices I can use with my hearing aid on the telecoil setting?
Quite possibly. The FCC requires that wireless devices be rated for HAC specifically for hearing aids in telecoil mode. These devices are labeled with ratings of T3 or T4.
Do the HAC ratings guarantee that I will be able to use a cell phone with my hearing aid?
Wireless devices that are rated for Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) should improve usability for hearing aid users. However, because of the highly individualized nature of hearing loss and hearing aids there is no guarantee.
Do HAC compliant wireless devices look any different from other devices?
Which HAC compliant handset devices are offered by Cintex?
Cintex offers the HAC compliant handsets listed below.
|Sanyo||PRO 200||M4||T4||Yes||Low Tier|
Low Tier: Voice centric phone that supports messaging. It has small displays.
Mid Tier: Improved features, greater than 1 mega pixel, with better resolution with at least QCIF display.
High Tier: Improved camera features, greater than 2 mega pixel with better resolution (QVGA or better). Includes a touch screen.