In an effort to expand access to auditory assistance devices used by people with certain disabilities, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has modified the definition of such devices as found in its Part 15 rules.
According to a Report and Order issued in May 2013, auditory assistance devices are now permitted to operate in the 72-76 MHz spectrum bands on an unlicensed basis. In addition, the Commission has expanded the permissible use of auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous language interpretation, thereby allowing the development of devices that can be used for both purposes.
The Commission notes that these actions should expand opportunities for the use of auditory assistance devices, and help to remove barriers to communications for people with hearing and sight disabilities.
At the same time, the Commission has lowered the limit for unwanted emissions from auditory assistance devices to support improved reception of VHF television service. The Commission has established an 18 month transition period after which new auditory assistance devices introduced to the market must comply with the lower limits in order to receive FCC equipment authorization, and a three year transition period for manufacturing, marketing and importation purposes. However, approved auditory assistance devices in use prior to the end of the three year transition period may continue to operate without having to meet the lower emissions limits.