FCC Moves To Make All Wireless Devices Compatible With Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants

While current FCC rules require cellphone makers to offer devices that won’t interfere with hearing aids and cochlear implants, not all wireless devices are included. Today, the Commission made two moves intended to include this compatibility on all wireless phones.

The first action taken by the FCC involves expanding the current compatibility requirements to cover both current cellphones and any other types of existing wireless telecommunications technology available now or in the future.

Until now, only phones that used traditional cellular networks were included in the compatibility mandate. So if a wireless handset is designed to only work with something like WiFi calling or Voice Over LTE, it would not necessarily be covered. Today’s action will require that future technologies comply with the hearing aid compatibility rules.

The FCC also moved to expand the variety of wireless handsets available to hard-of-hearing consumers.

The current compatibility rules only require that a certain percentage of a manufacturer’s devices not interfere with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Today, the Commission proposed new rules that will require 100% of wireless handsets are covered, meaning these consumers will ultimately have the same choices as everyone else.

Because this is just the beginning of the rulemaking process, it could be quite some time before all devices are compatible. However, the FCC notes that it drafted this rule after discussions with industry representatives, so hopefully manufacturers have already begun working toward the 100% goal.

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