Hearing Aid Compatibility: Choosing A Cell Phone That Works For You

Part 1

Introduction To Hearing Aid Compatibility

In This Video:

Finding Useful Web Resources

What Works: Understanding Hearing Aid Compatibility and the Rating System

Understanding the Difference Between Microphone Mode and Telecoil Mode

What Cell Phone Ratings Mean

[DR. LORI HALTER]  Hi, Mr. Asherton.

[CONRAD AHERTON]  Hi, how are you?

[DR. LORI HALTER]  Good I'm so glad you came back in to see me today.   I understand you want to learn more about how to use a cell phone with your hearing aids.

[CONRAD ASHERTON]  I do.  I'm finally joining the wireless world. My family thinks I need a phone in order to keep in touch with them, and to use in case of an emergency, and of course to keep in touch with friends and clients. But I thought maybe perhaps I need some more additional information about cell phones with my hearing aids.

[DR. LORI HALTER]  You know, you are going to be happy to know that there are numerous solutions and we're going to talk about some of your options today.  But you know what?  I want you to keep in mind that you have to have realistic expectations and be very patient because sometimes it takes a little bit of time to be successful with the use of a cell phone.  I know it's important to be educated and I'm glad you are coming in so that you can make an informed decision before you go purchase your cell phone.  So why don't we go back and talk about it.

[CONRAD ASHERTON]  Great.

[CONRAD ASHERTON] So can I get a lot of information off of the web?

[DR. LORI HALTER] You sure can. And it's a great first resource to use. The web sites of all the wireless carriers and the phone manufacturers offer lots of useful information on their sites, usually located on the company's accessibility page. The Hearing Loss Association of America, CTIA's Accesswireless.org, Wireless RERC.org, and Phonescoop.com websites are all good resources to consult for information on cell phone hearing aid compatibility.

[CONRAD ASHERTON] So, what do I need to look for when choosing a phone?

[DR. LORI HALTER] Some hearing aid users, who use a cell phone, may find that they experience this buzzing noise.  This really annoying sound when a cell phone is held to their ear. This is due to the electromagnetic and Radio Frequency pulses occurring between the hearing aid and the digital cell phone. The wireless industry and the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, is working very hard on efforts to try and reduce this interference.

[CONRAD ASHERTON] Oh really?  How are they working together?

[DR. LORI HALTER] The FCC has been working with the wireless companies for quite some time to offer wireless devices that meet compatibility requirements between digital cell phones and hearing aids. In a nutshell, these are that cell phones must be rated according to their hearing aid compatibility.

When you go to your wireless store you will see all the cell phones models out on the floor with display cards besides each phone.  If the phone is hearing aid compatible, there will be a rating that is designated by the letters M or T.  M now refers to the microphone mode and T refers to the telecoil mode. These are different technologies a hearing aid uses to pick up sound.

The M again refers to the device's RF emission level when making a call in microphone mode.  And the T refers to the cell phone's telecoil coupling.

In addition, there will be a number next to the M or the T.  And here's where it gets a little confusing.  It's a number like number 3 or 4.  And the higher the number the better the compatibility, which hopefully translates into better hearing and less interference.

[Conrad Asherton]  Wow! That's a lot of information. So which is better, the "M" rated phone, or the "T" rated phone.

[DR. LORI HALTER] Well, one really isn't better than the other. It really is a personal preference.  You need to try your phone in both modes before making your decision.