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Cell Phones

Cell Phones

These days, it seems that everyone is using a cell phone. You see people using them in their cars, in restaurants, walking down the street, etc. Do any of these people have hearing loss?

Below are links to several articles regarding compatibility between mobile phones and hearing aids or CIs. For additional information, please see the Mobile Phone Access portion of our Issues section.

Until recently, people who rely on their telecoil (T-coil) have not been able to use a cell phone, because they don’t produce enough magnetic flux to drive the T-coil.  However, Nokia has introduced a neckloop that provides T-coil compatibility with some of their cell phones. Our buddy Curtis has researched this and reports on HA Compatible Cell Phones.

August 2000 – It looks like cell phones are here to stay!! Here’s a writeup by Cheryl Heppner of NVRC of the Cell Phone and Hearing Aids workshop at the recent SHHH convention.

August 2001 – Have you tried using a cell phone with your hearing aid? How about with a TTY? Did it work well or not? Did you know that there are compatibility issues between some devices for people with hearing loss and some cell phones? This article about cell phone compatibility with aids and TTYs should help you learn more about a very complicated topic.

November 2001 – Wireless phones – hmmmm? can people with hearing loss use wireless phones? Even someone who’s totally deaf can put a wireless phone to good use – just not for transmitting voice! Learn how a wireless phone can help you in the wireless wave.

February 2002 – It’s pretty common knowledge that many digital cell phones are not hearing aid compatible, but fewer people are aware that many cell phones are not currently TTY-compatible. It seems that the TTY compatibility issue is an easier one to solve, because the resolution will be in place by June 30 of this year. (No resolution of the hearing aid compatibility issue is currently in sight.) Here’s more on TTY compatibility from CNET News.

July 2003 – The FCC FINALLY did it! They mandated digital wireless phones that are accessible to people with hearing aids and cochlear implants!

November 2003 – I think the FCC may be on a roll here! Now they’ve mandated wireless phone number portability!

November 2003 – OK, so some cell phones will become compatible with some hearing aids in the next two or three years. What does this mean to you? Here’s Linda Kozma-Spytek of the Gallaudet Telecommunications RERC with answers to your questions!

October 2004 – There’s been a long controversy regarding cell phone use causing cancer. Now there seems to be some evidence that long term cell phone use can cause acoustic neuromas – which cause deafness!

October 2005 – Looking for a hearing aid compatible cell phone? Here’s how to find one!

June 2006 – Teens evade rules with a ring tone adults can’t hear

October 2006 – ALDAcon 2006 Presentation – Introduction to mobile phones

March 2007 – Speech Recognition Empowers Cell Phones

April 2007 – More HAC Cell Phones Coming

April 2007 – Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) and Wireless Devices

May 2007 – TIA Publishes Standard for Improving HAC

June 2007 – Why would anyone want an inaudible ringtone?

July 2007 – Here’s our report on the cell phone workshop at the 2007 HLAA convention.

July 2007 – Hearing Aids to Indicate Cell Phone Compatibility Rating

November 2007 – FCC Supports Adoption of ATIS Hearing Aid Compatibility Incubator Recommendations

February 2008 – Analog Cell Phone Sunset

February 2008 – Study of Cell Phone Accessibility Published

April 2008 – Clarity unveils cell phone for seniors

February 2009 – How to Buy a Cell Phone when You Have a Hearing Loss

April 2009 – Doro Launches New Mobile Phones Designed for Baby Boomers & Active Seniors

August 2009 – 2009 HLAA Convention: The Wireless Industry: What’s Available? What’s Right for You?

August 2010 – FCC Moves to Improve Cell Phone Accessibility

August 2010 – FCC Takes Strong Action on Accessibility of Wireless Phones

September 2010 – FCC Adopts Rules on Wireless Hearing Aid Compatibility

September 2010 – Prolonged mobile phone use may be linked to tinnitus

November 2010 – Hearing Loss Organizations File Mobile Phone Comments with FCC

December 2010 – Choosing and Using a Cell Phone with Your Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant

March 2011 – iPhone 4 scores High on Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Testing

March 2011 – Updated Website Helps Consumers Choose Accessible Wireless Devices and Services

September 2011 – Cell Phones Which Are Compatible with Hearing Aids

October 2011 – The Best Phone Apps to Measure Noise Levels

More on this and related topics


Wireless Phone Number Portability

Editor: Since the breakup of AT&T way back when, people have been able to easily switch their local phone service provider. Several years ago, the providers in my area were competing for business and would offer incentives for people to switch. Some of my friends switched two or three times in a year or so and collected some nice gifts. And they always kept the same phone number.

Wireless phones haven’t worked that way; when you change carriers you get a new phone number. That’s one of the reasons people have been locked into staying with the same carrier, and I think it has helped sustain high prices.

That’s all changing on November 24 in the top 100 metropolitan areas in the US. As of that date, the FCC is requiring the service providers to implement number portability across carriers. I’ve seen predictions that as many as 30 million people will switch carriers within a couple of months of that date.

The switch will require people to buy new phones, because the carriers tend to us proprietary encryption techniques. So there will probably be 30 million used phones floating around. That could lead to some good prices on nice used phones! And don’t forget that old cell phones without service can still be used to call “911”, so they could be good emergency phones. Just remember to keep those batteries charged!

Here’s the brief note from the FCC.


For years, consumers with wireline phones have been able to switch from one local carrier to another in the same geographical area without having to change their phone number. Now, this service will be available to wireless phone customers as well.

Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) wireless “local number portability” (LNP) rules, you can switch wireless carriers and keep your existing phone number within the same local geographical area where it is currently assigned.

On November 24, 2003, wireless carriers in the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) must implement this program. We will be sending out more information on this important development gets nearer.




Teens evade rules with a ring tone adults can’t hear


June 2006


In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cell phone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear. In settings where cell phone use is forbidden — in class, for example — it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species. “When I heard about it, I didn’t believe it at first,” said Donna Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in New York City. “But one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She played it for her first-graders. All of them could hear it, and neither she nor I could.”  Full Story




Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) and Wireless Devices

April 2007

Are you struggling [with] what those T1 to T4 ratings for cell phone and hearing aid compatibility mean, or how the values are derived? This article is designed to help you understand these issues. The use of wireless devices for both personal and business applications continues to rise exponentially in developed and now in many emerging countries. Mobile phone use now exceeds 2 billion customers worldwide, and the market is rapidly approaching 3 billion. Increased capability is being added everywhere to mobile phones.  Full Story


Why would anyone want an inaudible ringtone?

June 2007

The tone, which is similar to the ringing in your ears (called tinnitus) after being surrounded by loud music or machinery, is inaudible to most older ears because of the high frequency of the sound. It’s a noise, or more politely, a buzz, which comes from the Bluetooth-enabled cell phones of teenagers who want to text message during class without teacher intervention. . . . Sloan, an incoming sophomore at Deshler High School, says that the tone “hurts after a while” but makes text messaging at school a lot easier.  Full Story


Clarity unveils cell phone for seniors

April 2008

Chattanooga-based Clarity on Tuesday unveiled a cell phone aimed at people over 65 who have vision and hearing loss. “Mobile phones have not been designed to meet the needs of the millions of aging Americans,” said Carsten Trads, the company’s president. The phone, dubbed ClarityLife, features a large display with prominent buttons. It also amplifies incoming sound by up to 20 decibel, according to the company which debuted the phone at a Las Vegas wireless conference. In addition, the phone is equipped with a one-touch emergency response button. When activated, it will call and send text messages to five pre-programmed numbers.  Full Story


Hearing Loss Organizations File Mobile Phone Comments with FCC

November 2010

Hearing Loss Association of America (“HLAA”), Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (“TDI”), Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc. (“ALDA”), and Deaf & Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (“DHHCAN”), National Association of the Deaf (“NAD”), and Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (“AG Bell”) (collectively, “Consumer Groups”) submit these comments in response to the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking1 (“FNPRM”) released by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) on August 5, 2010 regarding the hearing aid compatibility rules:

  1. The Commission proposes to extend the scope of the rules beyond the current category of commercial mobile radio services (“CMRS”) to include handsets used to provide wireless voice communications over any type of network among members of the public or substantial portion of the public. It also seeks comment on what transition period is appropriate for applying the requirements to newly covered handsets.
  2. The Commission seeks further comment on whether to extend in-store testing requirement beyond retail stores owned or operated by service providers to some or all other retail outlets.
  3. The Commission seeks comment on whether to extend to all circumstances the ability to meet hearing aid compatibility radio frequency (“RF”) reduction standards for GSM operations in the 1900 MHz band through software that enables the user to reduce maximum power output by up to 2.5 dB.   Full Story


Choosing and Using a Cell Phone with Your Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant

December 2010

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations require hearing aid-compatible digital wireless telephones. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about cell phones and the FCC regulations. More cell phones are being manufactured with reduced radio frequency (RF) emissions to minimize interference and make them more hearing aid user friendly as a result of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. If you are a hearing aid or cochlear implant user, the likelihood of finding a relatively interference free cell phone that will work with your hearing devices has increased because of improvements in cell phones and hearing instruments. We expect to see more phones in the 3G network that are compatible with hearing aids and cochlear implants. However, because hearing loss and hearing instruments are highly individualized, it is still advisable to try out cell phones in the store before making a purchase and again at home and work within the provider’s return period. Full Story


iPhone 4 scores High on Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Testing

March 2011

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules for digital wireless phones. This article describes HAC rules and iPhone 4 HAC ratings.  Full Story


Cell Phones Which Are Compatible with Hearing Aids

Sept 2011

As a service to hearing aid owners BHI is providing a complete (to their knowledge) list of U.S. phones which are most compatible with hearing aids. By compatibility we mean they carry the very highest rating of M4/T4:

* M4 indicates there is the least likelihood of microphone interference and

* T4 means there is the greatest likelihood of telecoil coupling compatibility with the cell phone.

The following is a list of the most hearing aid compatible cell phones. To find out more about a specific model go to www.phonescoop.com or click on the model.  Full Story


The Best Phone Apps to Measure Noise Levels

October 2011

Every day, we encounter a variety of sounds that hum, buzz, and ring and at safe noise levels.  However, individuals of all ages sometimes risk exposure to harmful noises that damage the sensitive structure of the inner ear and cause permanent or temporary Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).  Inside the ear, small hair cells transmit electrical signals to the brain.  These hair cells are often harmed or completely destroyed by extremely loud noises at home, in the workplace, and as we go about living our lives.  Common activities like attending rock concerts, working with shop tools, and operating lawn mowing equipment, as well as one-time occurrences like explosions, can destroy these delicate hair cells, resulting in hearing loss and even annoying tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Luckily, with modern technology comes help in measuring the decibel level of sounds around us. We found some great smart phone apps that raise a red flag when users enter situations that reach noise levels that may contribute to hearing problems.  The mobile nature of the smart phone makes it easy to take control of your health and hearing wherever you are, and avoid activities and locations that may be detrimental to healthy ears.  Read on to learn more about our favorite iPhone and Android apps for measuring noise levels.  Full Story

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