What to know before buying

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Are you looking for a hearing aid compatible phone? Finding the best phone for you depends on several factors: Are you looking for a cell phone or a landline phone? Are you a frequent or infrequent phone user? Is your hearing loss mild, moderate or severe?

All smartphones must be
Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC).

Since technology is constantly changing, we recommend working with your hearing care professional, who will likely be able to suggest options and even help you set up your mobile phone connection to your hearing aid. Also plan to try out different phones when shopping, testing out different models to see which works best for you.

Smartphones are compatible with hearing aids

Cell phones, also known as smartphones, cordless phones, or cell phones, are by far the most commonly purchased type of phone these days. New models and features are constantly evolving, and fortunately the FCC requires everything of them are hearing aid compatible (known as HAC).

Smartphones for mild to moderate hearing loss

If you have mild or moderate hearing loss (most people with presbycusis or age-related hearing loss fall into this category), you’re in luck: you probably don’t have to do anything special to use your hearing aids with a phone. , thanks to the technology called “acoustic coupling.“In simple terms, this phrase means that you are using the phone normally and your hearing aid’s microphone will automatically pick up sound coming from the phone. The downside? It can also pick up background noise.

When buying a phone, look for something called the M-ranking for hearing aid compatibility. The M rating ranges from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best compatibility. A higher rating means less distracting noise and feedback, but some unwanted noise is still possible. M3 is perhaps the most common rating – all iPhones currently on the market are rated in this range, for example.

Smartphones for severe hearing loss (or if you want a really clear signal)

If you have more severe hearing loss, or use the phone a lot and/or want a very clear signal, you should make sure your hearing aid’s ‘telecoil’ is turned on. Telecoils direct sound to the hearing aid processor without using the microphone. It can improve the signal-to-noise ratio while eliminating the potential for feedback.

Your telecoil may turn on automatically or require you to manually switch to telecoil or “T” mode. Ask your hearing care professional for more details. This is something you’ll also want to test out when trying out different phones. If you plan to use the telecoil feature, look for something called the T-ranking for hearing aid compatibility. The T score also ranges from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best. Many cell phones today are T4.

Bluetooth

If you prefer to route sound through a special technology like Bluetooth, you will need to ensure that your hearing aid is capable of working with the associated technology. Not sure if you want it? Find out what Bluetooth is and how it works with hearing aids.

Special landlines (including wireless) for hearing aid users

Good news: all pay, work, and emergency phones must be HAC, as required by the FCC.

But, if you’re in the market for a home phone, you’ll want to make sure the model you buy is HAC marked. Also look for the same rating system described above (M and T ratings) to determine compatibility level. This goes for regular phones and cordless phones.

Although landlines don’t offer the portability of mobile phones, they generally offer great sound and reliability because you’re not beholden to a cellular network or choppy internet signal. There are countless models marked HAC, and many will have extra features for the hearing impaired, like extra loud ringtones or flashing lights for incoming calls.

Other features to consider

  • Volume control: Most cell and landline phones on the market have volume control, and this is an important feature in a hearing aid compatible phone. You might also want a volume control for the ringtone, so you never miss a call. You can also benefit from a variety of ringtones available. Depending on your hearing loss configuration, some may be easier to hear than others. This is a good feature to test while shopping.
  • Incoming call alerts: Some HAC landline phones flash or vibrate when someone calls, so you don’t have to rely solely on an auditory signal. This is especially useful when watching TV or listening to music. Almost all cell phones have this feature as well.
  • Speech to text: These landline phones, also known as captioned phones, make communicating over the phone easier because you can read the text on a screen while you listen to the audio. Captioned phones are also available with large screens, making it easier to read text for the visually impaired.
  • Text: People who are hard of hearing may prefer to simply reach others on their phone via text messaging (also known as SMS), so get a cell phone plan that includes unlimited texting and a device with an easy-to-use typing keyboard.

How to find a phone

Hearing aid compatible phones are available from many different providers, and you can check your specific service’s website for the best phones. Cell phone companies will have a list of phones that are best suited for hearing aid wearers. Ask to try any cell phone before committing to purchase as interference can change depending on location. You may need to try a few before deciding. The highest possible rating is M4/T4.

You can also consult your local hearing care professional for help and recommendations regarding hearing aid compatible phones. They can provide advice in the context of your specific needs, and they can help you learn how to use your chosen devices for best results.

joy victory, editor-in-chief, healthy hearing

joy victoryJoy Victory has extensive experience writing consumer health information. His training, in particular, has focused on how best to communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging for audiences. Learn more about Joy.

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