The Hearing Aid Compatibility Act requires the FCC to ensure all telephones manufactured or imported for use in the United States and all "essential" telephones, such as public phones, emergency phones and workplace phones, are hearing aid-compatible.
What makes a telephone hearing aid compatible?
In the United States, about 60 percent of hearing aids contain telecoils, which generally are used by individuals with profound hearing loss.
Many people report feedback or "squealing" when they place the handset of the telephone next to their hearing aid. Telecoil hearing aids can eliminate this feedback because their microphones automatically turn off to block out ambient sound and the hearing aids only amplify the phone signal coming through the telecoil.
Hearing aid compatible phones have an internal feature that allows the use of telephone compatible hearing aids.
Consumer tip: Some hearing-aid users may need to place the ear-piece slightly behind the ear rather than directly over the ear to obtain the clearest signal.
What are the requirements for hearing aid compatibility for wireline telephones?
FCC rules require that phones subject to the HAC Act:
- Produce a magnetic field of sufficient strength and quality to permit coupling with hearing aids that contain telecoils.
- Provide an adequate range of volume.
FCC rules also establish technical parameters to ensure that telephones are compatible with hearing aids.
FCC rules also generally require that telephones allow volume to be increased to accommodate individuals with hearing disabilities whether or not they use hearing aids. Telephones allowing high volume levels must automatically reset to a lower volume each time the handset is returned to an on-hook condition. Telephone equipment manufacturers may request a waiver permitting high volume telephones to remain at the high volume setting under certain conditions.
Are there labeling requirements?
Telephone manufacturers are required to clearly label their telephones and the telephone packaging containing hearing aid-compatible handsets. They must also make information available in the package or product manual, and require service providers to make the performance ratings of hearing aid-compatible telephones available.
Filing a complaint
If you have a problem using a hearing aid with a digital wireline phone that is supposed to be hearing aid-compatible, first try to resolve it with the equipment manufacturer or your service provider. If you can't resolve the issue directly, you have multiple options for filing a complaint with the FCC:
- File a complaint online
- By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
- By mail (please include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
What to include in your complaint
Your complaint should include:
- The make and model number of the equipment or device you are complaining about.
- The name, address, and telephone number (if known) of the company or companies involved in your complaint.
- A brief description of your complaint and the resolution you are seeking, and a full description of the equipment or service you are complaining about, including date of purchase, use or attempt to use.
For more information
For information about hearing aid compatible wireless telephones, see the FCC’s consumer guide. For more information about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC's Disability Rights Office website.
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