Mobile phones have a history of interacting badly with hearing aids. The complex electronics in the mobile phones often resulted in interference between the two resulting in screeching, static, missed words or miscellaneous noises.Fortunately, advances in technology and new government regulations have made the question “Will this phone work with my hearing aid?” easier to answer. The labeling requirements mandated by the new government regulations make it easy to find a mobile phone that is compatible with your hearing aid.
The understand the labels, first you need to know that hearing aids can operate in one of two modes. Microphone mode is symbolized with an “M” and telecoil mode is represented with a “T”.In M mode, your hearing aid uses its built-in microphone to pick up audible sounds from the environment and amplify them so that you can hear them. Hearing aids in T mode can pick up the electromagnetic signals inside the phone.The T mode is important when shopping for a phone, because at least 60% of hearing aids sold in the U.S. have one.
Each of the two modes – M and T – have a standard sensitivity rating scale applied to them. The lowest sensitivity is 1 and the highest sensitivity is 4.No mobile phone or cordless handset sold in the United States can be sold as hearing aid compatible (HAC) unless it has a rating of at least M3 or T3.
In addition, many hearing aids (and cochlear implants) have a similar M and T rating to measure their sensitivity and their resistance to radio frequency interference. To determine the compatibility of your hearing aid and the mobile phone you are looking at buying, add together the M and T ratings for the phone and the hearing aid.If you get a combined total of 6 or more, that is thought of as excellent, a combination of hearing aid and phone that will be highly usable.If the combined rating is 5, this combination is considered normal and suitable for most regular phone use. A combined rating of 4 is considered usable for brief calls, but may not be suitable for extended phone use.
The rating system has created standards making it easier for hearing aid users to shop for a mobile phone online with confidence.If you are able to shop in a store that allows you to “try before you buy” and actually use the phone you want while wearing your hearing aid, that is of course a better idea.