Just because you have hearing aids doesn’t mean you can’t fully enjoy one of the best pieces of technology on the market, the iPhone. The iPhone 4 and 5 are hearing aid compatible devices. Hearing aid compatible (HAC) ratings are used by the FCC to determine whether or not a phone/device meets the certain hearing aid compatibility standards. When considering an iPhone or other hearing aid compatible device, please keep these factors in mind:
• HAC ratings are broken down into two different ratings based on the two modes that cellular devices operate in. (M and T)—M is for acoustic coupling and T is for telecoil coupling. The main difference is that the acoustic coupling mode amplifies all sounds (including those you don’t want) and the telecoil coupling mode has the ability to filter the sounds coming in. They are rated from 1 to 4 (4 being the most compatible) In order for a device to be considered hearing aid compatible, it has to have a rating of M3 or M4 for acoustic coupling and T3 or T4 for inductive coupling.
• A high HAC rating doesn’t mean that all hearing aids will work well with all cell phones. There may even be some phones that aren’t rated by the FCC that will work really well. It is a good idea to test the compatibility between the two devices before purchasing.
• Every iPhone is tested for compatibility with some of the wireless technologies that the phone uses. However, with the rapid development of newer technologies, it’s impossible to test the compatibility of all of them. Test all of the phone’s features in different locations to see if you experience any noise interference. Many service providers offer a trial period to test the service/device and be able to cancel service or return the device without penalty or obligation. Make sure you thoroughly test the phone in that allotted time period.
• Hearing aids and iPhones typically work best when the device is in the acoustic coupling mode, or “M” mode. It is also a good idea to place the phone in different positions next to your ear and the hearing aid device until you find the position that works best for you.
• If it doesn’t work well in “M” mode, try the telecoil coupling, or “T”, mode. Not all hearing devices will have a “T” mode. Newer iPhones, like the iPhone 5, have a hearing aid mode that can be turned on in the phone’s settings to modify its acoustic settings to improve compatibility with hearing aids in “T” mode.
• With the help of top manufacturers, Apple is developing Made for iPhone hearing aids. They will deliver the highest quality performance from the iPhone and will require an iPhone 4S or later model.
At Hearing Associates, we understand that finding phones or other accessories that are compatible with your hearing devices may be overwhelming. We welcome your questions and are more than happy to assist you in making choices to best fit your needs.