FCC Adopts Rules to Improve Accessibility of Phones by People with Hearing Loss

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FCC Adopts Rules to Improve Accessibility of Phones by People with Hearing Loss

Mon, 11/20/2017

In their October Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Order to update its requirements for hearing aid compatibility and volume control on wireline and wireless telephones.

In their news release regarding this new rule, the FCC said, “Under the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act, the Commission is required to establish rules that ensure access by people with hearing loss to telephones manufactured or imported for use in the United States. With today’s action, the Commission continues its efforts to ensure that tens of millions of Americans with hearing loss have access to and can benefit from critical and modern communication technologies and services.”

This Order:

  • adopts a revised volume control standard for wireline handsets to provide a more accurate measurement of voice amplification
  • implements a provision of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act to apply all of the Commission’s hearing aid compatibility requirements to wireline telephones used with advanced communication services, including phones used with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services
  • requires, within three years, that all wireless handsets newly certified as hearing aid compatible must include volume control suitable for consumers with hearing loss
  • reminds manufacturers and service providers of existing outreach obligations to ensure that consumers are informed about the availability of hearing aid compatible phones.

More information on existing FCC hearing aid compatibility rules is available on the FCC website.

For more information, please contact Susan Bahr, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at 202-418-0573 or Susan.Bahr@fcc.gov. For those using videophones and who are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), you may call the ASL Consumer Support Line at 844-43-2275.