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Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets

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Released: February 25, 2013
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
‘ February 25, 2013

DA 13-279

Small Entity Compliance Guide

Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets

DA 12-550
WT Docket No. 07-250

This Guide is prepared in accordance with the requirements of Section 212 of
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. It is intended
to help small entities—small businesses, small organizations (non-profits), and
small governmental jurisdictions—comply with the new rules adopted in the
above-referenced FCC rulemaking docket(s). This Guide is not intended to
replace the rules and, therefore, final authority rests solely with the rules.
Although we have attempted to cover all parts of the rules that might be
especially important to small entities, the coverage may not be exhaustive. This
Guide may, perhaps, not apply in a particular situation based upon the
circumstances, and the FCC retains the discretion to adopt approaches on a
case-by-case basis that may differ from this Guide, where appropriate. Any
decisions regarding a particular small entity will be based on the statute and
regulations.

In any civil or administrative action against a small entity for a violation of
rules, the content of the Small Entity Compliance Guide may be considered as
evidence of the reasonableness or appropriateness of proposed fines, penalties or
damages. Interested parties are free to file comments regarding this Guide and
the appropriateness of its application to a particular situation; the FCC will
consider whether the recommendations or interpretations in the Guide are
appropriate in that situation. The FCC may decide to revise this Guide without
public notice to reflect changes in the FCC’s approach to implementing a rule,
or to clarify or update the text of the Guide. Direct your comments and
recommendations, or calls for further assistance, to the FCC’s Consumer
Center:

1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

fccinfo@fcc.gov

Hearing Aid Compatibility Requirements for Mobile Handsets

1.

Objectives of the Proceeding

In the Third Report and Order, which the FCC released on April 9, 2012, the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) adopted
the most current hearing aid compatibility technical standard—which is the ANSI C63.19-2011
standard (the “2011 ANSI Standard”)—and incorporated it into the Commission’s rules. The
FCC took this action to ensure that the agency’s hearing aid compatibility rules continue to cover
the greatest number of wireless handsets and reflect recent technological advances. The action
also furthered the Commission’s goal of ensuring that consumers with hearing loss will be able
to access wireless communications services through a wide selection of handsets without
experiencing disabling interference or other technical obstacles.
2. Adoption of the 2011 ANSI Standard
The new 2011 ANSI Standard is a technical standard for evaluating the hearing aid compatibility
of wireless phones, thereby enabling handsets to be tested for hearing aid compatibility over a
broad range of frequency bands and independent of air interface technology. The standard
specifies testing procedures to establish the hearing aid compatibility of handsets for acoustic
coupling (M-rating) and inductive coupling (T-rating). The new rules permit new handset
models to be tested for certification using either the 2007 or 2011 ANSI Standard. All existing
grants of certification issued under the 2007 ANSI Standard, as well any pre-2010 grants under
earlier versions of ANSI C63.19, remain valid, and no existing handset models will need to be
retested or recertified as hearing aid-compatible. Consistent with existing rules that do not
permit a handset model to be certified partly under one version of the ANSI Standard and partly
under another, manufacturers must test each new handset model either exclusively under the
2007 ANSI Standard or exclusively under the 2011 ANSI Standard both during and after the 12-
month transition period discussed in paragraph three below.
3. Transitional Testing Requirements for Multi-Band and Multi-Mode Handsets
The Third Report and Order also adopted a 12-month transition period for the testing of multi-
band and multi-mode handsets that incorporate operations which are not covered under the 2007
ANSI Standard. Specifically, for the 12-month period that ends on July 17, 2013, as an
alternative to using the 2011 ANSI Standard, manufacturers will be permitted to certify such
handsets as hearing aid-compatible if they meet hearing aid compatibility criteria under the 2007
ANSI Standard for all operations covered under that standard, provided they meet the disclosure
obligations set forth in paragraph four below. In addition, during the 12-month period and until
guidance is issued regarding testing of Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) operations for
the T-rating under the 2011 ANSI Standard, OET will adapt its certification procedures so that
manufacturers may use the 2011 ANSI Standard for handsets with VoLTE capability. After July
17, 2013, any new handset model containing operations that are not covered under the 2007
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ANSI Standard will have to meet hearing aid compatibility criteria under the 2011 ANSI
Standard for all of its operations in order to be considered hearing aid-compatible over any air
interface technology. Handset models that are certified under the transitional rule before July 17,
2013, however, may continue to be counted and marketed as hearing aid-compatible after the
transition period has ended without additional testing or certification.
4. Disclosure Requirements for Multi-Band and Multi-Mode Handsets
Also adopted is a modified disclosure rule for certain handset models that are considered hearing
aid-compatible but do not meet hearing aid compatibility standards for all of their operations.
The Commission’s rules previously required specific disclosure language for hearing aid-
compatible handset models that were not tested for all of their operations because these
operations were not covered under the 2007 ANSI Standard. This requirement continues to
apply to handsets that are not fully tested and that are introduced during the 12-month transition
period noted above in paragraph three. However, handsets introduced during the 12-month
transition period may have been tested by the manufacturer and found not to meet hearing aid
compatibility requirements for newly covered operations under the 2011 ANSI Standard before
the manufacturer submitted them for testing under the 2007 ANSI Standard. The new rule
requires that manufacturers and service providers inform users by clear and effective means that
these handsets have been tested and found not to meet the 2011 ANSI Standard for some of their
operations. The rule does not prescribe specific language for this disclosure.
5. Transition Period for Applying Deployment Benchmarks
The Third Report and Order also adopts rules to phase in over a defined period of time expanded
hearing aid-compatible handset deployment requirements that result from adopting the 2011
ANSI Standard. Under the Commission’s rules, manufacturers and service providers must offer
defined numbers or percentages of hearing aid-compatible handset models for each air interface
technology for which it offers wireless handsets. As discussed above, the 2011 ANSI Standard
enables handsets to be tested for hearing aid compatibility over a broader range of frequency
bands and independent of air interface technology. For manufacturers and the four nationwide
service providers, the Commission’s existing deployment benchmarks will apply to handset
operations over air interfaces and frequency bands that are newly covered under the 2011 ANSI
Standard beginning July 17, 2014. For non-nationwide service providers, these benchmarks will
apply beginning October 17, 2014.
6. Weblinks and Citations
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Rowan, Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau, (202) 418-1883, mailto:michael.rowan@fcc.gov, or check out the hearing aid
compatible wireless phone section of the Federal Communications Commission's Web site at
http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac/index.htm?job=home.
3

In the Matter of Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible
Mobile Handsets, WT Docket No. 07-250, Third Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 3732 (2012).
http://www.fcc.gov/document/rules-adopted-more-wireless-handsets-consumers-hearing-loss.

Hearing Aid Compatibility Act, Pub. L. No. 100-394, 102 Stat. 976 (1988), codified at 47 U.S.C.
§ 610 (Hearing Aid Compatibility Act).
Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT
Docket 01-309, Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 16753 (2003).
Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT
Docket No. 01-309, Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 20
FCC Rcd 11221 (2005).
Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid Compatible Mobile Handsets,
Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid Compatible Telephones, WT
Docket No. 01-309, Second Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd
19670 (2007).
Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid Compatible Mobile Handsets,
WT Docket No. 07-250, First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 3406 (2008).
Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets,
WT Docket No. 07-250, Policy Statement and Second Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking
, 25 FCC Rcd 11167 (2010).
Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid Compatible Mobile Handsets,
WT Docket No. 07-250, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 14991
(2011).
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