Hearing Aid Compatibility Information

Hearing Aid Compatibility Information for Wireless Handsets


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 Northwest Missouri Cellular recommends that you test the handset before purchasing.

Northwest Missouri Cellular (NWMC) offers HAC-compatible handsets and devices in all major price categories, including low-cost ("C" level) (less than $100), moderate-cost ("B" level") ($100-$250), and high-end/feature-rich ("A" level) (more than $250). Costs generally correlate with the number of features, but, if though experience, Northwest Missouri Cellular finds that a certain handset contains features that work well with hearing aids, such as volume control, it will be labeled accordingly with an "A" level for functionality. Northwest Missouri Cellular'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.

Here are some commonly asked questions about hearing aid compatibility.

Q: What does hearing aid compatibility (HAC) mean for a wireless handset?

A: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines HAC for wireless devices in terms of two parameters; radio frequency (RF) emissions and telecoil coupling. Cell phones are tested to see if they comply with the FCC's definition of hearing aid compatibility.

Q: How will I know if a handset is rated for HAC?

A: Northwest Missouri Cellular can provide you information regarding HAC, however such information can also be found displayed on the handset box or in the manual and packing insert. HAC compliant handsets will have an 'M' or 'T' rating. If you have other questions about the rating of a wireless handset, ask NWMC or the product manufacturer for more information.

Q: What does an 'M' rating mean?

A: 'M' refers to the devices RF levels and means the device should be used with hearing aids in microphone mode. The higher the 'M' rating the more compatible the handset should be. 'M' ratings of 'M3 – M4' are most compatible and should provide great quality of sound. 'M1 – M2' ratings could mean poor compatibility.

Q: What does a 'T' rating mean?

A: 'T' refers to the devices telecoil coupling ability. This means the handset is most compatible with hearing aids in telecoil mode. The higher the 'T' rating the more compatible the handset should be. 'T' ratings usually rate 'T3 – T4'.

Q: How will I know what type of handset will be most compatible with my hearing aid?

A: Your healthcare provider may assist you in determining if your hearing aid will be compatible with HAC rated handsets. With information about your hearing device you can make an educated decision based on 'M or T' handset ratings.