Since technology has moved from analog to digital, accessibility for those who are hard of hearing or deaf has become a real concern. Although major improvements in wireless technology have resulted in added features and better efficiency, digital technology can cause buzzing sounds or other interference, making it hard for a hearing aid user to hear a conversation over the phone.
As a result, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made updates to the 1988 Hearing Aid Compatibility Act ("HAC Act”) in an effort to ensure the ability of hard of hearing and deaf individuals to use their digital wireless devices. Certain handsets have undergone special hearing aid compatibility testing and have been rated with HAC “T-Ratings” or "M-Ratings". These ratings are very helpful for hearing aid users to determine the leading phone that can meet or exceed their specific needs.
Devices that earn an M3 or M4 rating meet FCC requirements. That means that these devices are not as likely to be generating interference with hearing aids than those with no rating. Of the two ratings M4 is the highest rating.
Telecoils in Hearing Aids
Telecoils are small devices that have been installed in some hearing aids for the purpose of using them with telephones along with other devices for assistive listening. Some hearing aids are built with telecoils built in, but others are not. Cell phones that have a T3 or T4 rating generally are considered best for consumers that use hearing aids equipped with telecoils.
A number of accessibility features are also available in these cell phones to help deaf or hard of hearing people:
Silhouette, Bluetooth®, Neckloops and Loopsets compatible: Some devices could be compatible with specific accessories that are deemed to possess Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT). These can include headsets, inductive silhouettes and neckloops. Silhouettes resemble a tiny hook, which is worn behind a hearing aid, plugging into cell phones. Neckloops are wires worn around users’ necks, which then plug into a cell phone. Both of these devices are magnetically coupled with a hearing aid’s t-coil, thus delivering sound that emanates directly from the cell phone and reduces ambient and background noise. In addition, certain hearing aids can be connected via Bluetooth® to a user’s cell phone using a remote control streamer.
Vibrating, audio or visual features: Users have the ability of assigning these features to specific functions, such as keyboard inputs, calendar events, messages or incoming calls. Purchasing, downloading, creating or assigning distinguishing ring tones is also possible to assist the user in hearing them more easily.
Video closed captioning: Video programming capable wireless devices also have the ability of supporting video subtitling, closed captions and open captions. Just as closed captions show up on television, the captions appear onscreen with video closed captioning on a user’s cell phone.
Hearing aid menus
TTY compatible: If a phone is teletypewriter compatible, it enables visual communication using an electronic display on either one line or two lines that are TTY device enabled. This device allows users with hearing or speech disabilities to remain in touch. Wireless phones that are TTY compatible have a 2.5mm port for accommodating the 2.5mm TTY device’s jack connector. ·
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA): This is an alerting network that disseminates emergency alerts for the purpose of public safety and delivers them to cell phones. Users should be looking for a special WEA symbol on the packaging of a cell phone they are considering buying to see to if it supports WEA.
Visual displays for indicating call functions
Customization available from wireless carriers: Since hearing aids are greatly individualized, individuals with hearing loss or deafness should thoroughly research and try out potential phones that are hearing aid compatible for optimum satisfaction with their functions. In addition, it should be noted that hearing aid compatible device lists change regularly, but an updated list is available from the National Center for Customers with Disabilities.
Devices and Ratings
According to extensive testing, certain devices have been shown to provide better performance with hearing aids. For example, there are five Apple iPhones from the 4s model up to the 6Plus that are considered to be in the "Best" category. They all have M3 and T4 ratings. Also, in that category are nine LG phones, two Blackberries, six HTC models, the Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640XL, as well as the Asus Zenfone 2E and the Kyocera DuraForce.
The following is an extensive list of devices, ratings and FCC identification numbers for consumers in need of hearing aid compatibility:
Make Model FCC ID Rating Level of Classification**
Apple iPhone 4s* BCG-E2430A M3,T4 Best
Apple iPhone 5c* BCG-E2644A M3,T4 Best
Apple iPhone 5s* BCG-E2642A M3,T4 Best
Apple iPhone 6* BCG-E2816A M3,T4 Best
Apple iPhone 6 Plus* BCG-E2817A M3,T4 Best
Asus Zenfone 2E MSQZ00AD M3,T3 Best
AT&T (ZTE) Z222 Q78-Z222 M3,T3 Good
AT&T (ZTE) Z432 SRQ-Z432 M3,T4 Better
BlackBerry Classic L6ARHE150LW M3,T4 Best
BlackBerry Passport* L6ARGY180LW M3,T4 Best
HTC Desire 610 NM80P9O200 M4 Best
HTC Desire 626 NM80PM9120 M4,T4 Best
HTC Desire EYE* NM80PFH100 M4,T3 Best
HTC One* (M8) NM80P6B120 M3,T3 Best
HTC One (M9)* NM80PJA110 M3,T4 Best
Kyocera DuraForceTM* V65E6560 M4,T3 Best
LG G Flex* ZNFD950 M3,T3 Best
LG G2* ZNFD800 M3,T3 Best
LG G3* ZNFD850 M3,T3 Best
LG G3 Vigor* ZNFD725 M3,T3 Best
LG G4* ZNFH810 M3,T3 Best
LG G Vista* ZNFVS880 M3,T3 Best
LG XpressionTM(C395) ZNFC395 M3,T4 Good
LG G Flex2* ZNFH950 M3,T4 Best
LG Escape2* ZNFH443 M3,T3 Best
Microsoft Lumia 640 PYATAA M3,T4 Best
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL PYAAAA M3,T4 Best
Motorola Moto E* IHDT56QC1 M3,T3 Best
Motorola Moto G* IHDT56PF1 M3,T4 Best
Motorola Moto XTM IHDT56QA1IHD56QA4 M3,T3 Best
Motorola Nexus 6 IHDT56QD1IHDT56QD2 M4,T4 Best
NEC TerrainTM(NE-201A1A)* A98-RSZ3446 M3,T3 Best
Nokia Lumia 635* PDNRM-974PDNRM-975 M3,T4 Best
Nokia Lumia 1020* DNB M3,T4 Best
Nokia Lumia 1520 PYAB M4,T3 Best
Pantech Renue JYCP6030 M3,T4 Better
Samsung Galaxy AlphaTM* A3LSM850MA3LSMG850A M3 Best
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