HAC Accessibility

The thing about hearing loss is that no one can see it. Most people are so impatient; they just assume that the person with hearing loss is being rude, or slow-witted.
-Marrion Ross (from Happy Days)

 Old Man

Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing[1]. If you are among the throng who suffer from hearing loss and are on the hunt for a compatible cell phone, here are some things you should know:

 

What is HAC?

HAC stands for Hearing Aid Compatibility. This is a support for hearing-impaired customers which identifies those devices that work best with hearing aids. It refers both to hardware and software and is a federally mandated, FCC requirement.

What makes a phone a HAC phone?

Different types of hardware are present in cell phones. Some will work better with certain hearing aids, preference is also a consideration. These are the technical aspects to consider:

Acoustic coupling – Captures all sound using the microphone, including unwanted ambient sound

Telecoil coupling –  Uses a device called a telecoil located in the hearing aid, which helps capture only the sound generated by a compatible telephone. This helps eliminate feedback on phones.

What makes a phone HAC?

Telecoil is only available for “In-the-ear” and “Behind-the-ear” hearing aids and cochlear implants. Smaller aids are not big enough to support the telecoil. Telecoil users may need to place the phone slightly behind the ear for best results. Not all hearing aids have telecoil capability. It is important for the hearing aid user to know their hearing device’s abilities.

ANSI Ratings?

ANSI ratings are another important requirement when trying to find the right fit for your mobile needs. ANSI (pronounced an-see) stands for American National Institute. They developed a scale from 1-4. The first measurement is represented by an “M” and measures the reduction of interference for acoustic coupling. The higher the rating is, the less interference there will be. “T” measures quality of telecoil coupling. The higher this value, the better the coupling. Remember, not all devices have the telecoil.

Do HAC-compliant wireless devices look any different from other devices?

No. There are Apple, Samsung, and a variety of others which are HAC compatible. All of which can be purchased online, directly from the manufacturer. If a cell phone is HAC compatible, the original phone packaging will be labeled with an "M" and/or "T" and a rating number. Only devices that are rated for HAC will be labeled in this way. If you see an "M3", "M4 T4" or "T3" label on the packaging, then the device is HAC compliant.

Summary

It is important that you contact your hearing aid or cochlear implant manufacturer or professional for more information on HAC. Then, test the features of your hearing aid device before settling on the right cell phone. All our Union Wireless stores have test devices for certain mobile phones. For more information you can search in your app store or search the following links:

  1.       https://www.google.com/accessibility/
  2.       https://www.apple.com/accessibility/

 

 


[1] NIH, https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing#3

 Contributed by Angelica Mecham

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