Hearing Aid Compatibility


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 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.

Handsets Meeting ANSI Standard

Microphone Standard

Amerilink Wireless has in its line up wireless 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.

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 Amerilink Wireless store.

Telecoil Standard

Amerilink Wireless has wireless handsets that meet the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Telecoil standard. 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.

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.

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.

Levels of Functionality

Choice assigns each compliant handset a level of functionality based upon the company's assessment of the two factors: price and operating features. Phones with camera, video and Bluetooth are intermediate. If a phone also had MP3 and internet capabilities it would be advanced. Any phone without these features would be considered basic.

Status of Product Labeling

All compliant handsets display acoustic coupling compliance ("M") and inductive coupling compliance ("T") ratings on the handset packaging. An explanation of the ANSI rating system is provided either as an insert in the packaging material or in the handset’s user manual.

Outreach Efforts

All Choice retail outlets have copies of a brochure designed to educate customers regarding handset-hearing aid compatibility issues. The brochure discusses hearing-aid compatibility standards for mobile phones and describes the issues that can arise from the joint use of hearing aids and mobile phones. The brochure also lists and describes the hearing-aid compatible mobile phones available from the Company. This information is also available on Choice’s website.

Web site

Choice provides on its web site www.amerilinkwireless.com a list of all hearing-aid compatible models currently offered, the ratings of each model, an explanation of the ANSI rating system, and the classification of each model under the company’s functionality scale (Basic, Intermediate, or Advanced). An explanation of the methodology of its classification, as well as a list of specific model functions, is also available on Choice’s web site.

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 Amerilink Wireless store.
  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:

    1. Does your hearing aid have "cell phone shielding"?
    2. What is the "M" (microphone) rating of your hearing aid?
    3. Is the circuitry design of your hearing aid more immune to interference?
  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 Amerilink 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.