People who wear hearing aids run a higher risk of experiencing some challenges while using cell phones. For some people, interference may occur due to the radio frequency emissions from your cell phone while other individuals may not experience any noisy intrusions at all. However, when interference does occur, the buzzing sound can make understanding speech difficult, communication over cell phones annoying, and, in the worst case, render the cell phone unusable for the hearing aid user.
Fortunately, as technology improves, so too does the compatibility between hearing aids and cell phones. More and more cell phone companies are coming out with cell phones that have lower radiofrequency emissions or use innovative technologies to lessen the unwanted effects on hearing aids. It is also required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for cell phone makers to make phones more compatible with hearing aids and in some cases provide hearing aid compatible handsets.
Choosing a Cell Phone
Considering there are rules and regulations that must be followed by cell phone providers, it’s easier for hearing aid wearers to find compatible cell phones. When searching for a phone, pay attention to the ratings assigned by the manufacturers- as they give an indication of the likelihood that a cell phone may interfere with hearing aids. If the rating is high, undesired interference is less likely to occur. You can easily find out if it is hearing aid compatible by looking for the label on the display at the cell phone store, on the cell phone package or in the user’s manual. Some other convenient characteristics that you should consider when choosing a cell phone include:
- Volume control. Luckily, it’s rare to find a phone without volume control.
- Lighting control for display and keypad. The lighting is a source of noise for telecoil users, to this is important to have on a phone.
- Speaker phone. Using speakerphone puts space between the user and the phone which reduces the interference.
- Teletypewriter (TTY) or other assistive device connections. Make sure the phone has “TTY Mode” or “TTY Option” in its menu system. Look for the TTY symbol on the phone’s package or user manual.
- Other accessories such as, vibrating alerts or vibrating accessory, flashing screen to alert a call and speech-to-text or video streaming are also helpful to have if you wear any type of hearing instrument.
It’s extremely important to shop around before you buy, because you will want to choose the most compatible phone to your hearing aid. Ask questions about the different phones and the stores cancellation and return policies. Your hard work will pay off, and in the end you will have a suitable cell phone that works compatibly with your hearing aid.