FCC Revises and Extends Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules


At its November 19, 2015 Open Meeting, the FCC revised its Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules and proposed additional changes. In recognition of market and technology developments, the Commission extended the reach of its rules from only cellular-based handsets to handsets incorporating IP-related technologies, including Wi-Fi calling and Voice-over-LTE. The new rules will also require all handsets using any future technology to comply automatically with the Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules and all manufacturers to consider compatibility as early in the product development process as possible. The FCC hopes that this new, forward-looking approach will ensure consumers with hearing loss need no longer play “catch-up” whenever technology changes.

Having obtained stakeholder consensus on a proposal to “ensure that all wireless handsets are accessible to and usable by people who use hearing aid devices and cochlear implants,” the FCC also seeks comment on that plan. The new approach, if adopted, would replace today’s rules that require manufacturers and service providers to offer hearing aid compliant devices for only a percentage of their handsets. With further rule changes, consumers with hearing loss would have the same choice of handsets as consumers without such disability.

In the event you have questions about the new hearing aid compatibility rules or the FCC’s request for public comment on additional changes, please contact Robert H Jackson at 703-714-1316 or rhj@commlawgroup.com.

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