FCC Proposes Update to Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed updates to its rules applicable to hearing aid compatible (HAC) handsets.

Under a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued at the end of January, the Commission would incorporate into its current rules the requirements of the 2019 version of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for evaluating handset compatibility. (Current rules reflect the requirements of the 2011 version of the standard.) The updated standard revises how hearing aid compatibility is determined between wireless handsets and hearing aids and requires that handsets also meet volume control requirements in order to be considered hearing aid compatible.

Finally, the updated standard specifies testing procedures for new technologies and devices that operate in the frequency range of 614 MHz to 6 GHz.

To help smooth the implementation of the revised rules, the Commission has also proposed a two-year transition period, during which time handsets could be tested under either the 2011 standard or the 2019 version. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also recommends the removal of unnecessary or superseded requirements to its HAC rules and seeks comment on other ways to simplify them.

Under federal law, handset device manufacturers are required to ensure that 66% of their consumer handset offerings are hearing aid compatible. That percentage increases to 85% in October 2021, and the Commission will reportedly decide by 2024 whether or not to require 100% HAC compatibility.  

Read the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on HAC handsets.

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