HLAA Supports Stronger Consumer Education Regarding HAC Phones

Hearing Loss Association of America alongside Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the National Association of the Deaf, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing-RERC at Gallaudet filed Comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) wireless phones. The Commission has been seeking comments from the public regarding adoption of the 2019 version of the ANSI standard by which handsets will be tested for HAC. 

HLAA supports adoption of the new standard. One result of adoption of the 2019 Standard will be that labeling for HAC phones will be clear and less confusing for consumers. Currently, HAC phones are labeled with an M (for interference when using the microphone of the hearing aid and the cell phone) with the number 3 or 4. It can also be rated for telecoil compatibility with a T with the number 3 or 4. We understand many people unsure about this labeling, not only what the M and T means but what the 3 and 4 means. Labeling under the new standard will simply say that phone model is HAC. If it is not hearing aid compatible there will be no mention at all about hearing aid compatibility.

Our Comments, filed April 6, 2020, are in support of adopting the 2019 ANSI standard. We also support: (1) continuing requirements for in-store testing of handsets for consumers with hearing devices; (2) continuing requirements for manufacturers and service providers to “refresh” and provide “differing levels of functionality” for HAC handsets; (3) adding requirements for in-store “call-out cards” (those cards that sit below the cell phone with information about that phone) to make sure those cards provide information about whether the handset is HAC.

Questions: email advocacy@hearingloss.org

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