On March 23, 2023, the FCC released two Public Notices seeking comment on:

1. The Report filed by the HAC Task Force regarding its recommendations for achieving 100% hearing aid compatibility for wireless handsets.  The Report makes five central recommendations, urging the Commission to: 

  • adopt a more flexible, forward-looking definition of hearing aid compatibility;
  • adjust current technical standards for hearing aid compatibility;
  • allow for exploration of changes in coupling technology (e.g., by additional exploration of Bluetooth and alternative technologies);
  • allow covered entities to demonstrate compliance by relying on information linked in the Commission’s Accessibility Clearinghouse; and
  • set a 90-day shot clock for the resolution of petitions for waiver of the hearing aid compatibility requirements.

Comments are due 30 days after the date of release, and reply comments are due 45 days after the date of release.

2. The Petition filed by Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) on behalf of the covered entities of the HAC Task Force.  The Petition asks the FCC to allow wireless handsets to satisfy a reduced volume control testing methodology instead of the methodology contained in the existing standard in order to be certified as hearing-aid compatible.  ATIS asserts that there is a “problem with the underlying testing methodology” in the volume control standard that makes compliance with the 2019 ANSI standard functionally impossible for handsets. 

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and reply comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Interested parties may file comments by accessing the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings.  All filings about the Report must reference WT Docket No. 15-285.  All filings about the Petition must reference WT Docket No. 20-3.  People with disabilities who need assistance to file comments online may request assistance by email to FCC504@fcc.gov

Links to the HAC Task Force Report Public Notice:
URL:  https://www.fcc.gov/document/wtb-seeks-comment-hac-task-forces-final-report-and-recommendation

Links to the ATIS Petition Public Notice:
URL:  https://www.fcc.gov/document/wtb-seeks-comment-petition-waiver-filed-atis

Link to the HAC Task Force Report:
PDF:  https://www.atis.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/ATIS-HAC-Task-Force-Report-and-Recommendation.pdf  

Link to the ATIS Petition:
PDF:  https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/1216020115086/

For general information about hearing aid compatibility, visit https://www.fcc.gov/hearing-aid-compatibility-and-volume-control.  For specific questions about the Public Notices, contact Eli Johnson at eli.johnson@fcc.gov, Attorney Advisor, Competition and  Infrastructure Policy Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.  Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).

Thursday, March 23, 2023