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I purchased my hearing aids somewhere else but was not pleased with the service after the sale. I have since been going to Johnson’s and couldn’t be happier with the care I receive. I will definitely come back next time I need new hearing aids.

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Cell Phones and Hearing Aids

If you wear hearing aids and have tried to use a cell phone, you may be familiar with the static and interference that occurs, making speech difficult to understand. This interference is caused by the radio frequencies emitted by the digital wireless phone and can occur whether the hearing aid is in the microphone or telecoil coupling mode.

There is an electromagnetic field present around the telephone’s antenna when it is paired with a network. This field pulses during communication emitting energy that can be picked up by the user’s hearing aid and result in buzzing or static noise. Telecoil users may also experience electromagnetic interference from the telephone’s components such as the display backlight, battery or circuit board.

In 2003, in amendment of the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act, the FCC ruled that the wireless industry must rate cell phones according to hearing aid compatibility in terms of radio frequency emissions and telecoil coupling. The new ratings imply how well a hearing aid will work with the phone when using microphone or telecoil settings, but not how loud the phone will sound.

Wireless phone manufacturers must provide several phones which provide microphone coupling capability. Cell phones which are acceptable under the new rule will be assigned a rating of M3 or M4. The “M”, which stands for microphone, will let the consumer know that the phone has been tested and rated for use with a hearing aid in microphone mode. The higher the “M” rating, the less likely the user will experience interference.

Manufacturers must also offer phones that offer telecoil coupling capability. Acceptable wireless phones will have a rating of T3 or T4. The “T”, which stands for telecoil, will let the consumer know that the phone has been tested and rated for use with a hearing aid in telecoil mode. The higher the “T” rating, the less likely the user will experience interference.

Hearing aids are also for immunity to radio frequency interference. As with wireless phones, the higher the rating, the less likely radio frequency interference will occur. Most new digital hearing aids have an immunity rating of at least M2. However, some older hearing aids may not have components that are immune to radio frequencies even though they are still on the market.

The hearing aid and cell phone ratings can be combined to determine which cell phones are most likely to provide a positive experience for the hearing aid user. A hearing aid rated M2 and a wireless phone rated M4 have a combined rating of M6, which is considered “excellent” performance. A combined rating of 5 would likely offer “normal” performance.

Tips for purchasing a new cell phone

  • If the hearing aid is to be coupled with the cell phone in microphone mode, look for phones rated M3 or M4.
  • If the hearing aid is to be coupled with the cell phone in telecoil mode, look for phones rated T3 or T4. Also consider the cell phone’s display backlighting; turning it down may lessen the interference.
  • Make sure the cell phone is loud enough and the volume control is easy to use.
  • Try the cell phone before you buy it! Most wireless carriers allow hearing aid users to try cell phones in the store before buying one. If you choose to try the cell phone outside of the store, be sure to ask how long you have to return the phone and cancel the service without penalty. Also make sure to try using the phone in several different locations. The further you are from a cell phone tower, the more energy will be emitted during communication, increasing the likelihood of interference.
  • To check out which phones are compatible online, go to PhoneScoop.com. On the menu on the left click on “Phone Finder”, then select the “Simple Tab” then “Show All Options” right below. Scroll about half way down and under the header “Hearing Aid Compatible”, select the ratings you want to search for. There are several other options such as phone manufacturer and wireless carrier which can make selecting a phone easier.