Telecommunications and Hearing Aid Compatibility

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Telecommunications and Hearing Aid Compatibility

Jul 12 2007

Hearing Aid Immunity Levels: Useful information to have when shopping for a mobile phone. The hearing aid industry will now rate the immunity level of their hearing aids and put the information in the product manual that is included with each hearing aid purchase. Hearing Industries Association, the trade association for hearing aid manufacturers, said that all of their members have agreed to include the language in their manuals. HIA membership produces approximately 90% of hearing aid purchased in the US.

The sample language sent to the Food and Drug administration that regulates hearing aids, states the minimum immunity level, but some companies according to Carole Rogin, executive director of HIA, may choose to use specific immunity levels.

The bottom line is consumers need to look for the immunity levels of their hearing aid and they should be at least M2. This information will help when purchasing a mobile phone. Adding the immunity rating of the hearing aid to the rating of the mobile phone as long as the total comes to at least 5, the phone should be usable with a hearing aid. The higher the total number the better the phone is expected to perform with eh hearing aid. 

So remember to ask your hearing health professional to tell you the immunity level of your current hearing aid or hearing aids you may be purchasing.


July 12, 2007

Linda S. Kahan, Esq.
Deputy Director
Center for Devices and Radiological Health
Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
9200 Corporate Boulevard
Rockville, MD

Dear Ms. Kahan:

Thank you for your letter of December 18, 2006 in response to a letter from the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) dated December 15, 2005 regarding proposed voluntary hearing aid labeling about compatibility with digital cellular phones. In that letter, the Agency made recommendations regarding draft labeling language developed by HIA to provide consumers with information about compatibility.

HIA members carefully considered the Agency's comments in the December 18, 2006 letter and have incorporated those comments in the language that companies will now include in their user manuals. The text that companies will use is as follows:

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."

Let me also provide some additional information regarding this voluntary effort by HIA members:

  • Companies will provide this information with their relevant products on a prospective basis as user manuals are prepared, revised or reprinted
  • Companies may choose to modify the wording of this statement for readability or greater consumer clarity, but the information above will be the basis
  • Companies will maintain documentation of compatibility testing in their files

The members of HIA have partnered with the cellular telephone industry, the FDA and the FCC and, importantly, consumer groups representing people with hearing losses and hearing aids to provide the best possible guidance to the users of our products. We are confident that this collaborative effort will result in the broadest possible access to digital cellular technology by hearing aid users.

Sincerely,

Carole M. Rogin
Executive Director

cc:      HIA Members
            Larry Kessler, ScD
Jeffrey Gibbs, Esq.
Peter Tannenwald, Esq.

515 KING STREET SUITE 420 ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA 22314
PHONE: (703) 684-5744          FAX: (703) 684-6048          www.hearing.org

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