In November 2014, representatives from HLAA, TDI, and Gallaudet University met with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to discuss hearing aid compatible (HAC) wireless phones. At that meeting we were able to report on the results of our HAC Survey: “Can You Hear Me Now, Revisited,” as well as compare that to a similar HAC survey released in 2011.
More than 800 people responded to our recent HAC Survey. Thanks to those people, we were able to provide the FCC with information about the experiences of consumers who have tried to purchase a hearing aid compatible mobile phone.
The survey revealed that consumers continue to face problems finding hearing aid compatible phones, including consumers who reported difficulty finding HAC mobile devices and consumers who purchased mobile devices and experienced interference (buzzing) when the phone was held close to their hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Among our recommendations to the FCC are:
- People with hearing loss who use hearing aids and cochlear implants must have universal access to mobile phones. These phones should not rely on an external device, such as a Bluetooth receiver, a neckloop or other connective device that makes it difficult for the consumer to use the mobile phone in all situations the consumer needs to use that phone.
- Considering the continued problems with the availability of HAC phones, we recommend that hearing aid manufacturers, carriers and other stakeholders once again open a dialog with consumers to address the problems that consumers continue to face, as they did during the meetings of the ATIS working group.
- Considering consumers still report it is difficult to find phones that are compatible with their hearing aids, whatever standards are used to test phones, we recommended that the Commission re-evaluate current benchmarks for HAC mobile devices and increase the number of mobile devices required to be HAC in both the acoustic and telecoil mode.
After our meeting the FCC released a Public Notice regarding HAC phones. HLAA plans to file comments in that proceeding.
To read more, see our Ex Parte filing regarding this meeting.