Thanks to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), cell phone makers and service providers are required to make some hearing aid compatible cell phones. But how do you find the one for you? This article will provide you with some ideas of what to look for when you start comparing phones to make sure you make an educated purchasing decision.
Cell phones meeting the FCC regulations for being Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) will be labeled as such. If the label is not there, or HAC is not included in the features listed in the user's manual, the phone is simply not compatible.
Once you have verified the phone is HAC, find the microphone rating (M rating) of the phone. You are looking for a minimum M3 or M4 rating. This means the phone is compatible with the aid in the microphone position. The higher the number rating, the more the phone promises to sound clearer with hearing aid usage.
While you are rating the phone, find the rating on your aid itself. The rating is similar to the M rating and ranges typically from 1-4. In telecoil mode, the rating is T1-T4. After you've found one of these two ratings, add the number it to the phone's rating. If the total is between 4 and 6, the phone and the hearing aid will work well together. And just as with the phone's M rating, the higher the number, the better.
Some features you may find useful on your phone are related to your own personal usage. If you are a frequent cell user, for example, you may benefit from an aid with an automatic telecoil or automatic microphone telephone program.
Perhaps you need to be hands-free, especially if you expect to be using your phone while driving. There are hearing aids that can be synced with a Bluetooth compatible phone. In such cases, you can receive a cell phone call directly into your hearing aid with your phone up to 30 feet away.
Similar to the Bluetooth phones, those with an in-the-ear aid can get what is essentially “earbuds” similar to ones used with iPods. The device connects to an amplifier and microphone that then attaches to the aid.
Some manufacturers have developed a neckloop or earhooks for hearing aids that have a telecoil. These neckloops and earhooks include a microphone and plug into the cell phone to make it easier to hear.
Before You Buy
The best suggestion is to shop around to make sure you are happy with the phone you are selecting. Do not be afraid to speak with your audiologist when you are considering a new cell phone. He or she will be most familiar with the model of your aid and can give you personal recommendations for cell phones other patients have had success with in the past.
For more information on hearing aids, contact a doctor nearest you. If you are in Georgia, Atlanta hearing aids can help you find solutions.
Atlanta Hearing Institute