Until recently, using cell phones was a frustrating proposition for people with hearing aids. Now, thanks to improved regulations and new technology, people using hearing aids can find compatible cell phones and accessories that offer outstanding performance.
New FCC Regulations
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken an active role in improving the experience of using cell phones and other wireless devices for Americans living with hearing aids. Because of new regulations adopted by the agency, device manufacturers must now include several features that make it easier for hearing-impaired people to use their products, including reducing the amount of static and interference, and producing better connections between telecoil hearing aids and the device itself.
Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) Devices
One of the best components of these new regulations are transparent labeling requirements for device manufacturers. Cell phones that meet a particular set of standards are deemed to be “hearing aid compatible,” and are clearly marked with HAC on the product packaging.
This has made it significantly easier for customers to shop for phones without worrying about spending money on a product that will be rendered useless because of their hearing aid. When shopping for a HAC device, you should look for the designation on the package itself, on the display card that is provided along with the model unit, or in the user’s manual.
Many devices are also rated for their performance when used with hearing aids. For compatibility with hearing aids in microphone mode, cell phones are rated M1 to M4, with the higher number representing a better quality connection. Ratings are similarly provided for telecoil mode (T1 to T4), and the higher the combined rating, the better the overall performance of the phone will be. The FDA notes that performance levels are not guaranteed, even in the case of excellent device ratings, and consumers should always test a specific device to see how it works with their hearing aid.
U.S. Hearing Solutions has made it even easier for people with hearing aids to use wireless technology with the introduction of the SurfLink series of wireless accessories from Audibel. Devices such as the SurfLink Media 2 can act as a wireless cell phone transmitter for your hearing aid, enabling hands-free phone conversations or media streaming directly into your hearing aid.
To learn more about how the SurfLink accessories can transform your experiences with wireless devices, schedule an appointment at one of many, convenient U.S. Hearing Solutions locations to learn more.