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Universal Hearing Aid Compatibility Standards


February 5, 2016

Hearing aids allow people to overcome hearing problems, restore their proper hearing abilities, and communicate effectively with others during social and professional endeavors. However, people can experience problems if their phones and devices are not compatible with their hearing aids. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) attempted to alleviate this problem by establishing universal hearing aid compliance standards. If you are interested in receiving an audiogram and utilizing hearing aids, you should learn about the updates regarding universal hearing aid compliance standards.  
 
  • HAC Act:  The FCC implemented the Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Act in 1988 to require phone companies to accommodate hearing aids. Because many problems can emerge among individuals and communities if people wearing hearing aids cannot use phones, the HAC Act mandated that all telephones manufactured in the US or imported to the US must be hearing aid compatible. The law also required that essential and public phones must be hearing aid compatible, including coin-operated phones, health facility phones, and hotel room phones. As a result, the HAC established standards to ensure that all telephones are hearing aid compatible, required all phones to satisfy these standards, and this beneficial policy enables people with hearing aids to effectively use phones.  
  • Policy Updates:  The rapid telecommunication developments of cell phones in the recent decade impelled the FCC to revisit the hearing aid compatibility issue. Whereas the original 1988 HAC Act exempted mobile phones from the compliance standards, in 2003 the FCC revoked this exemption by requiring all cellular phones to be hearing aid compatible and to accommodate the compliance standards of the HAC Act. This was especially beneficial because many people in the US population receive audiograms, wear hearing aids, and need to be able to hear and communicate through their cell phones while wearing their hearing aids. In turn, the FCC ensured that all mobile phones were compatible with hearing aids. However, in November of 2015 the FCC proposed plans to further expand the HAC Act by including all consumer wireless devices. This would provide universal hearing aid compliance standards by requiring all wireless devices to accommodate the HAC Act, including Wi-Fi calling, wireless handsets, and VoLTE.  
  • Apple Dispute:  Apple is currently disputing the new FCC universal compliance proposal. A written complaint perpetuated by Apple disputed the proposal, discouraged the FCC from extending the HAC Act, and adamantly argued against passing any policies that would require universal hearing aid compatibility among all wireless devices. Apple also expressed certain arguments to dispute the proposal. The technology company argued that its MFi hearing aid platform connects hearing aids to handsets and should be exempt from the HAC compliance standards. Apple also argued that universal compliance policies would stifle the progress of innovative hearing aid compatibility technologies. In contrast, many top hearing aid professionals support the FCC universal compliance proposal. Supporters argue that the policy can enable people with hearing aids to use any wireless device without needing to pay extra money for the compatibility features. As a result, the FCC is still developing the universal hearing aid compliance policy, Apple is refuting the proposal, and many hearing aid professionals are encouraging the FCC to implement the policy and ensure that all hearing impaired individuals can use all wireless devices.

Contact
Resonance Hearing Aids to learn more about hearing aid compatibility technologies. We were formed out of a desire to empower individuals through better hearing. Our expert staff can conduct effective audiograms, provide high-quality hearing aid products, and teach you how to use the products with technological devices to maximize your hearing and communication abilities.  We believe that communication is one of the keys to happiness and success in life and the ability to hear verbal communication, along with the subtleties of our world, should be attainable to anyone.