Sandhill Wireless HAC
Hearing Aid Compliant
(HAC) Device Rating
As of January 2011
Hearing Aid Compatibility with Mobile Phones
Some wireless phones are measured for compatibility with hearing aids. If the box for your particular model has “Rate for Hearing Aids” or similar printed on it, the following explanation applies. These handsets have been tested and rated for use with hearing aids for some of the wireless technologies that they use. However, there may be some newer wireless technologies used in these phones that have not been tested yet for use with hearing aids. It is important to try the different features of these phones thoroughly and in different locations, using your hearing aid or cochlear implant, to determine if you hear any interfering noise. Consult Sandhill or the manufacturer of the handset for information on hearing aid compatibility. If you have questions about return or exchange policies, consult Sandhill.
When some mobile phones are used near some hearing devices (hearing aids and cochlear implants), users may detect a buzzing, humming, or whining noise. Some hearing devices are more immune than others to this interference noise, and phones also vary in the amount of interference they generate.
The wireless telephone industry has developed ratings for some of their mobile phones, to assist hearing devices users in finding phones that may be compatible with their hearing devices. Not all phones have been rated. Phones that are rated have the rating on their box or a label on the box. The ratings are not guarantees. Results will vary depending on the user’s hearing device and hearing loss. If your hearing device happens to be vulnerable to interference, you may not be able to use a rated phone successfully. Trying out the phone with your hearing device is the best way to evaluate it for your personal needs.
M-Ratings: Phones rated M3 or M4 meet FCC requirements and are likely to generate less interference to hearing devices than phones that are not labeled. M4 is the better/higher of the two ratings.
T-Ratings: Phones rated T3 or T4 meet FCC requirements and are likely to be more usable with a hearing device’s telecoil (“T Switch” or “Telephone Switch”) than unrated phones. T4 is the better/higher of the two ratings. (Note that not all hearing devices have telecoils in them.)
Hearing devices may also be measured for immunity to this type of interference. Your hearing device manufacturer or hearing health professional may help you find results for your hearing device. The more immune your hearing aid is, the less likely you are to experience interference noise from mobile phones.
Hearing aids do not always function well with wireless handsets. Hearing aids operate by using a microphone to pick up sound waves, converting the sound waves into electrical signals to be amplified. Distortion or amplification of unwanted sound (noise) often occurs.
The FCC’s hearing aid compatibility requirements address hearing aids that operate in either of two modes – acoustic coupling (“M” rating) or inductive coupling (“T” rating). Hearing aids operating in acoustic coupling mode receive through a microphone and then amplify all sounds surrounding the user, including both desired sounds, such as a telephone’s audio signal, and unwanted ambient noise. Hearing aids operating in inductive coupling mode turn off the microphone to avoid amplifying unwanted ambient noise, instead using a telecoil to receive only audio signal-based magnetic fields generated by inductive coupling-capable telephones. The FCC’s “M” and “T” ratings indicate whether a handset can be expected to function well with a hearing aid and are generally marked clearly on the handset packaging. The “M” or “T” rating does not guarantee that the handset will function without distortion or noise, so Sandhill recommends that you test the handset before purchasing.
Sandhill offers HAC-compatible handsets and devices in all major price categories, including low-cost <$100, moderate cost $100-$200, and high-end/feature-rich >$200. Costs generally correlate with the number of features. Sandhill’s sales staff is trained to assist all existing and prospective customers looking for a HAC-compliant device/handset. HAC-compatible handsets and devices vary in their inherent “levels of functionality,” but typically at least one (1) HAC-compliant handset/device with features and services typical of its price category can be found that meets each customer’s price range.