Hearing Aid Compatibility with Wireless Handset Devices
In general, a hearing aid operates by using a microphone to pick up sound waves in the air and convert the sound waves to electrical signals. The signals are then amplified as needed and converted back to audible sounds for the user to hear. The hearing aid's microphone, however, does not always work well in conjunction with audio devices like headsets and telephone handsets. The acoustic connection made between the audio device and the hearing aid is poor and creates distortions in the sound. In addition, the surrounding noise in the area of the user is often picked up by the hearing aid and interferes with the desired audio.
Methodology for Functionality Levels
Basic Phone: A voice centric device with messaging capability, some basic phones can web-browse, access social media sites and email. A Basic phone works mostly on 1XRTT or 3G networks. Basic phones can support a camera feature with 1 or 2 Mega Pixels and devices may utilize a key pad, QWERTY, or touch screen.
Smartphone: A voice, messaging, web browsing and e-mail centric device that can access social media, video and application store sites as well as perform application down loads. A Smartphone can support platforms like, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows. They can operate on the 3G and 4G networks.
Handsets Meeting ANSI Standard
As of February 15, 2010 Verizon Wireless has included in it's line up of wireless handsets at least 10, or 50%, of it's handsets that meet or exceed the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) hearing aid compatibility standard. Handsets that receive a hearing aid compatibility rating of M3 or M4 have met or surpassed the ANSI hearing aid compatibility standard as adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.
- M3-rating indicates the handset has satisfied the ANSI standard
- M4-rating indicates the handset has exceeded the ANSI standard
The higher the M-rating the handset has the lower the Radio Frequency emissions level and higher signal quality the handset will have. If there is no M-rating then the handset does not meet the ANSI standard. The handset's M-rating along with a hearing aid's M-rating will assist customers in finding a handset that will work best for them. The hearing aid must be in microphone mode in order to replicate the mode that was used with the handset when the rating was achieved.
Rating information can be found on the handset description card at your local Verizon Wireless store and on the Verizon Wireless online store. The M-rating, and a brief description of what the M-rating means, will be on the outside of the handset box and included with the information inside the box.
As of February 15, 2010, Verizon Wireless has included in its line up of handsets, at least 7 or 33% of its handsets that meet the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Telecoil standard; beginning February 15, 2011 at least 10 handset models. Handsets that receive a telecoil rating of a T3 or T4 have met or surpassed the required standard as adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.
- T3-rating indicates the handset has satisfied the ANSI standard
- T4-rating indicates the handset has exceeded the ANSI standard
The telecoil rating is in reference to telecoils in some hearing aids, the telecoil is a small device that is built into some hearing aids for use with the telephone as well as assistive listening devices. Not all hearing aids have telecoils. To use the telecoil, generally, either the hearing aid is switched to the "T" position or a button on the hearing aid is pushed to select the telecoil setting.
The telecoil picks up magnetic fields generated by telephones and converts these fields into sound. Telecoils are particularly useful for telephone communication because they permit the volume control of a hearing aid to be turned up without creating feedback or "whistling," and background noise can be reduced, especially when using cell phones in noisy places.
Starting September 15, 2006, those handsets that are both compliant for the microphone rating and the telecoil ratings will have both ratings on the handset box and its owner manual as well as the rating appearing on the handset description card in the store. If compliant to both standards it will appear as M3/T3 or M4/T4.
Devices with new technologies may not yet be tested for hearing aid compatibility. Those devices will be labeled with the following information:
This phone has been tested and rated for use with hearing aids for some of the wireless technologies that it uses. However, there may be some newer wireless technologies used in this phone that have not been tested yet for use with hearing aids. It is important to try the different features of this phone thoroughly and in different locations, using your hearing aid or cochlear implant, to determine if you hear any interfering noise. Consult your service provider about its return and exchange policies and for information on hearing aid compatibility.
Some Common Questions:
1) Will handsets that are labeled "hearing aid compatible" have any interference that may cause static buzzing sounds?
It depends on the level of immunity in the hearing aids and the level of reduced emissions from the digital wireless handset. The interference comes from both magnetic and RF (radio frequency) pulses generated by digital wireless handset. There is no guarantee that handset labeled "hearing aid compatible" will definitely work for you, but they should improve usability for hearing aide users.
2) How will I know if a handset is HAC (hearing aid compatible) compliant?
If the device meets M or T standards of a 3 or higher rating, the M or T, or both, will appear on the phone description card in the Verizon Wireless store or on the feature description list on Verizon Wireless.com for all applicable devices.
3) How do I know if my hearing aid works with a handset?
Ask your hearing aid healthcare professional the following questions about your specific hearing aid
- Does your hearing aid have "cell phone shielding"?
- What is the "M" (microphone) rating of your hearing aid?
- Is the circuitry design of your hearing aid more immune to interference?
This information, along with the M-rating of the handset, will be useful to you.
4) May I try the handset before I buy it?
Yes. It is best to try several handsets before you buy one, to find the best match with your hearing aid. All Verizon Wireless stores have M-rated handsets available for you to try in the store. You will be able to place a call to our customer service department so you can determine if you can hear well on that model handset.
5) Will a non-rated handset work with hearing aids?
A non-rated handset may work with hearing aids. A lack of a rating does not mean a device will not work with a hearing aid. You are encouraged to test all handsets in the stores prior to buying. Please remember that everyone's hearing loss is different and what works for one person may not work for another.
6) Is a HAC-compliant phone more expensive than a phone without a rating?
No, there is no additional cost for a handset device to be HAC-compliant.
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