The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Report and Order which will implement changes to the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules. The new rules requires manufacturers and service providers to make more hearing aid compatible phones available to consumers:
• 66 percent of offered handset models must be compliant within two years for manufacturers of handsets, with additional time for service providers.
• 85 percent of handsets must be compliant within five years for manufacturers, again with additional time for service providers.
Telecommunications for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (TDI), Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), CTIA, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) issued the following joint statement:
“The wireless industry and the people who are deaf or hard of hearing have a long-standing history of working together so that America’s world-class wireless products and services are accessible to all, including those who use hearing aids or cochlear implants. We are pleased that today’s Order on hearing aid compatibility adopts our joint proposal, which is yet another example of collaboration to achieve a shared goal. We look forward to continuing to work with the Commission and all stakeholders on these important issues.”
Statements from FCC Leadership
Tom Wheeler Chairman
“One area where the Commission has made significant progress in making sure accessibility is baked into new technology is hearing aid compatibility for new mobile devices. Today we take another step toward the day when Americans with hearing loss can access the same range of wireless handsets as anyone else.” The FCC “reconfirms its commitment to pursuing 100 percent compatibility within eight years.” Chairman Wheeler added, “To be clear, we expect to require 100 percent compliance.”
Mignon Clyburn Commissioner
“In addition to recognizing the contributions of HLAA, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the National Association of the Deaf, TIA, CTIA and CCA, I would like to thank the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau for their hard work on this historic item.”
Jessica Rosenworcel Commissioner
“We put ourselves on a path to making 100 percent of mobile handsets hearing aid compatible. That means every device accessible to everyone with hearing problems.” Commissioner Rosenworcel adds, “This decision has my full support.”
Ajit Pai Commissioner
“Our ability to take these important steps is due in no small part to the leadership shown by the hearing loss community, including Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Hearing Loss Association of America, and the National Association of the Deaf. These groups hammered out a consensus with industry groups, and all of these parties deserve to be recognized for their hard work.”
Michael O’Rielly Commissioner
“Today’s order demonstrates a careful balancing of potentially competing interests – providing more hearing aid compatible phones while ensuring that innovation will not be delayed.”