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

Part 2

How To Use Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Ratings To Choose Your Wireless Device

In This Video:

Using Hearing Aids With Cell Phones

Identifying Cochlear Implant Compatibility Issues

About T-Coil Mode

Choosing A Cell Phone By Combining Your Hearing Aid Rating And Cell Phone Ratings

Using Different Carrier/Service Provider Technologies

[DR. LORI HALTER] And if you remember, as we talked about when you were fitted with your hearing aids, we created several hearing aid programs for specific listening environments and one was a telecoil program. More and more people are starting to utilize the T coil setting.

The way you access your T-coil program on your hearing aid is by pushing the button here on the back. Older models though would access the telephone function by switching the toggle from microphone to telephone on their particular hearing aid.  We also briefly discussed, if you remember, the importance of the room acoustics of where one is speaking as well as the placement of the phone at your ear. 

[CONRAD ASHERTON] Now, my hearing aids are a newer model, so should I expect better performance with a cell phone?

[DR. LORI HALTER] Well yes. In general newer hearing aids should provide better performance with the cell phone as their internal circuitry has been optimized to be more immune to the interference. This will tend to, so call, "shield" the hearing aid from interference. Also, hearing aid manufacturers are beginning to list the immunity ratings of their hearing aids in the similar manner as the cell phone companies have.  And for your information, and in case you didn't know this, your hearing aid has an M3/T3 rating.

Some cell phones also have both an M and T rating.

So what this means is when you add the M rating of your hearing aid along with M rating of the phone that you choose to purchase, you get a combined rating.  Such as if your hearing aid has a rating of an M3 and your cell phone has an M rating of 3...the combined rating is 6.  The higher the combined rating the better experience you should have.

[CONRAD ASHERTON] As kind of an aside, I have a friend who has a cochlear implant. What compatibility rules apply there?

[DR. LORI HALTER] Cochlear implants aren't rated for cell phone compatibility although I would probably anticipate that cochlear implant users would share the same issues that hearing aid users have.  Again, you should try before you buy.

[CONRAD ASHERTON] That's good to hear. No pun intended. Is there anything else I need to know?

[DR. LORI HALTER] One very important factor to consider is which service provider you will choose. Service providers operate two main networks in the United States.

[DR. LORI HALTER] Some hearing aid users have reported they experience less interference when they use a service provider operating a CDMA network than they do using a phone on a GSM network.

As performance may vary dramatically for each individual as they do from hearing loss to hearing loss, hearing aid-to-hearing aid, phone-to-phone, and network-to-network.

Again, this is why it is important to try before you buy.