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Providers Must File Timely, Accurate Hearing Aid Compatibility Reports

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Released: January 2, 2014

PUBLIC NOTICE

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th St., S.W.

Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

Washington, D.C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

DA 14-5

January 2, 2014

Enforcement Advisory No. 2014-01

FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY

HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY FOR WIRELESS TELEPHONES

WIRELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS ADVISED TO TIMELY FILE HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY

STATUS REPORTS AND ENSURE ACCURATE AND COMPLETE REPORTING

Annual Compliance Filing for Service Providers Due January 15, 2014

The Enforcement Bureau reminds wireless service providers, including resellers, of their obligation to report on
compliance with the hearing aid compatibility rules on or before January 15, 2014. The hearing aid compatibility
rules ensure that individuals with hearing loss can fully access advanced wireless phone services without
excessive feedback or noise.

QUICK GUIDE

·
The window for service providers to file their Hearing Aid Compatibility Status Reports on FCC
Form 655 opened on December 16, 2013, and closes on January 15, 2014.
·
Service providers must report all handsets offered, review their filings for accuracy and completeness
prior to submission, and submit timely amendments (i.e., by the January 15 deadline) as may be
necessary to correct any errors.
The Commission remains committed to ensuring that individuals with hearing loss are not denied the public
safety and convenience benefits of digital wireless telephony. The Commission adopted its first hearing aid
compatibility rules in 2003, and service providers should now have in place robust programs to ensure
compliance. The Bureau will continue to take aggressive enforcement action against companies that violate
these important rules. In 2013, the Enforcement Bureau proposed more than $1.4 million in penalties for
violations of the hearing aid compatibility rules. Since 2007, the Commission has taken hearing aid compatibility
enforcement actions totaling more than $4.3 million.

What do the hearing aid compatibility rules require?

FCC rules require most wireless service providers
to offer a minimum number of hearing aid-compatible handset models to make their products accessible to
consumers with hearing loss. To ensure that consumers have access to up-to-date information on the
availability of those handset models, FCC rules also require service providers to submit periodic status reports
and to post specific information on their websites. The status reports and web content provide valuable
information to the public concerning the technical testing and commercial availability of hearing aid-compatible
handset models.
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How important is accurate reporting?

All filers must accurately report their handset offerings in their
annual status reports.1 Inaccurate or incomplete reports hamper the Commission’s ability to monitor the
deployment of hearing aid-compatible handsets and impede compliance with the hearing aid compatibility rules.
One common error that has led to inaccurate reporting occurs when service providers mistakenly report only
those handset models that were “sold” to consumers instead of all handset models “offered,” as required by the
rules.2 The Bureau also regularly finds inaccuracies in the information reported about each handset, including
the hearing aid compatibility rating, model name, and FCC ID, as well as the period during which handset models
were offered. Unfortunately, these errors may then be replicated by other entities.3 The Enforcement Bureau
urges all filers to review their status reports carefully before submission to ensure their accuracy, and to timely
amend their reports if errors are subsequently discovered.4 The Commission may take separate enforcement
actions to address the filing of inaccurate or incomplete reports if this problem persists.

What happens if service providers or manufacturers do not comply with the rules?

Failure to
comply with the hearing aid compatibility rules may result in the imposition of substantial penalties.
·
Violations of handset deployment requirements may result in monetary forfeitures starting at $15,000
per violation. Since 2012, the Commission has applied the $15,000 base forfeiture to each failure to
offer a hearing aid-compatible handset during each month of the reporting year.5
·
Violations of the status reporting and website posting requirements may result in monetary forfeitures
starting at $6,000 per violation.
The Commission may adjust these base forfeitures based on aggravating or mitigating factors. The
Communications Act and Commission rules authorize forfeitures against a common carrier up to $160,000 for
each violation, or for each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1,575,000 for a single act or failure
to act.6

Need more information?

To file a hearing aid compatibility status report, visit http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac.
For information regarding enforcement of the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules, please contact Pamera D.
Hairston, (202) 418-1165, Pamera.Hairston@fcc.gov, or John D. Poutasse, (202) 418-2172,
John.Poutasse@fcc.gov, of the Enforcement Bureau. For general information on the wireless hearing aid
compatibility rules, including the filing of status reports, contact Michael Rowan, (202) 418-1883,
Michael.Rowan@fcc.gov, or Eli Johnson, (202) 418-1395, Eli.Johnson@fcc.gov of the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau.
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio
format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-
0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). You may also contact the Enforcement Bureau on its TTY line at (202)
418-1148 for further information about this Enforcement Advisory, or the FCC on its TTY line at 1-888-Tell-
FCC (1-888-835-5322) for further information about the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules. Media inquiries
should be directed to Mark Wigfield, (202) 418-0253, Mark Wigfield@fcc.gov.
Issued by: P. Michele Ellison, Chief, Enforcement Bureau
-FCC-

1 See 47 C.F.R. § 20.19(i).
2 See id. § 20.19(i)(3)(i) (“Reports filed by service providers must include: (i) [c]ompliant handset models offered to customers since
the most recent report . . . .”).
3 The FCC’s Equipment Authorization System is the most reliable source for information on a handset’s hearing aid compatibility
rating. The Equipment Authorization System is an electronic database of all equipment certified under FCC authority. See
http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid/.
4 Filers are reminded that they must click on both the “Certify Filing” and “Submit Filing” buttons to submit their status reports
successfully. Filers will receive a confirmation number after submission. Status reports may be updated at any time prior to the
filing deadline. A previously submitted status report that has been updated but not re-submitted before the filing deadline will
revert to “Saved” status and does not constitute a “Submitted” report.
5 See T-Mobile USA, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 27 FCC Rcd 4405, 4415, paras. 22-23 (2012).
6 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(B); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(3).
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