Proposed Updates to Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States published a proposal to adopt a new hearing aid compatibility technical standard on March 6, 2020.

The following are proposed:

  • the new technical standard of ANSI 63.19-2019 for determining whether a wireless handset is hearing aid compatible (HAC)
  • updates to the FCC's HAC labeling requirements so that consumers have the information they need to understand and evaluate the HAC of a handset
  • changes to simplify and update the FCC's HAC rules

This proposal requires wireless handset manufacturers to comply with ANSI C63.19-2019, the 2019 version of the American National Standards Institute technical standard for hearing aid compatibility.

The 2019 standard provides a revised technical approach for determining hearing aid compatibility and incorporates the volume control standard used for wireline phones, ANSI/TIA-5050, as a component of the requirements a handset must satisfy to be considered HAC. Also, the new standard eliminates the M/T rating system and covers handsets operating in the 614 MHz to 6 GHz as opposed to the 698 MHz to 6 GHz range of the current standard.

The proposal, if adopted, would extend the effective date of the volume control required to be consistent with the implementation date of the new standard.

A two-year transition period is provided that would begin after an order adopting the 2019 standard is published in the Federal Register. In this period, either the 2011 or the 2019 version of ANSI C63.19 can be used.

The proposal also simplifies the HAC labeling requirement to allow consumers to have a better understanding, including giving wireless handset manufacturers flexibility different options to place the label, including packaging materials and manuals, etc. Certified handsets that have air interfaces that are HAC must include the exact warning language proposed by the FCC. The information about amplification capabilities shall be displayed on the packaging materials and in the manual.

The proposal sets the comment due date to April 6, 2020. The reply comment due date is April 20, 2020.

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