In this guide, we will cover:
- Your options for landline phones and mobile phones that are compatible with hearing aids
- How to understand the different features and ratings of each type of phone
Whether you or your loved one is new to hearing aids or has been wearing them for quite some time, their compatibility is likely a top priority. Today’s hearing technology has made it possible to pair your hearing aids with a wide range of devices, providing the ultimate in both convenience and sound quality.
No longer do people with hearing loss have to struggle to hear phone conversations because there are a growing variety of options when it comes to hearing-aid compatible cell phones and landline phones. With an array of special features that are designed to enhance call quality and ensure compatibility with hearing aids and a range of price points and brands, you can choose a home telephone or cell phone that suits your specific needs.
Cell/Smartphones Compatible with Hearing Aids
From basic mobile phones to high-tech smartphones, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a mobile phone. Fortunately, the FCC requires that all mobile phones be compatible with hearing aids. Each model is assigned a rating (see more about M and T ratings below), so that consumers can determine how well each one will work with hearing aids.
Using this information, you can choose the option that best aligns with your needs and preferences.
Cell phones for mild/moderate hearing loss
For individuals with mild or moderate hearing loss – which includes many people with age-related hearing loss – there are usually no specific steps needed to use a cell phone with hearing aids. Because of acoustic coupling technology (also called “coupling mode”), your hearing aids can automatically pick up the sound from your device as normal. One downside is that you may notice the presence of some background noise, which can be improved or even eliminated with certain phone models.
The M rating of a phone refers to its compatibility with hearing aids, with each phone assigned a rate from 1 to 4 (4 is the highest level of compatibility). With a higher rating, you can enjoy the benefit of decreased feedback and background noise. M3 is the most common rating, with all Apple iPhone models falling within this category.
Cell phones for severe hearing loss
If you have severe hearing loss (or simply want to invest in the best cell phone for hearing aids), you need to turn on your phone’s telecoil. The telecoils direct the sound to your hearing aids’ processors, disabling the microphone to minimize feedback and improve the signal-to-noise ratio.
Some models automatically turn the telecoil on, while others require you to put it in “T Mode” or manually activate the telecoil via the phone’s settings. If you are struggling to turn on the telecoil in your phone, your audiologist can usually help.
When you’re shopping for a cell phone to use with hearing aids, look for the T rating. Ranging from 1 to 4, with a T4 rating representing the best, the T rating measures a mobile phone’s compatibility with hearing aids. If a phone has a T3 rating, that means that the handset fulfills the ANSI standard. Many of today’s models qualify as T4-rated.
Bluetooth is a specialized technology that allows you to route the sound from the phone directly to your hearing aids. This high-tech feature can be extremely useful, but you’ll need to make sure you have Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids first.
Landline (Including Cordless) Telephones Compatible with Hearing Aids
When it comes to using a landline phone with hearing aids, we have good news: all public, workplace, and emergency phones must meet the FCC’s hearing aid compatibility requirements.
For your home phone, you’ll want to find a model that is labeled as “HAC” (hearing aid compatible). Use the same system of ratings discussed above to determine the option that matches your needs. Both standard and cordless telephones are rated using the same standards.
For a wearer of hearing aids, there are definitely benefits to landline telephones. The sound quality and reliability are generally excellent, and there is a broad range of HAC models to choose from. Also, special features such as extra-loud ringers or lights that flash when a call is incoming can offer extra functionality.
Phones Compatible with Hearing Aids: Tips for Choosing the Best Fit
Ready to upgrade to a cell phone compatible with hearing aids? Here are a few tips to make the process as simple as possible:
- If you have a preferred service provider, contact them directly to find out which phone options they offer. Typically, service providers can provide you with a list that details the phones that are best for people that wear hearing aids.
- Be open to trying a few different phones so that you can get a hands-on experience with each one. You may find that the model you thought would be best doesn’t measure up to your needs, while another may end up being better suited.
- Collaborate with a hearing healthcare professional. Not only can your audiologist provide suggestions for certain phones, but they may also be able to help you set up the phone and pair it with your hearing aids.
- Organizations such as the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative are dedicated to providing key information to help consumers find devices with accessibility features. Using their tools, you can browse phones, tablets, mobile applications, smart TV, and more.
Don’t forget to begin the shopping process well-prepared with an understanding of the features each device can offer, such as:
- Volume control: Usually, volume control is a standard feature for most phones, both cell, and landline. However, you could also benefit from models that allow you to adjust the ringer volume, as well as choose from a variety of ringtones. Depending on your hearing loss, you may find that certain ringtones are easier to hear when compared to others.
- Incoming call alerts: Flashing lights or vibration can notify you when you have an incoming call, so you don’t have to rely just on sound.
- Speech-to-text functionality: Also called captioned phones, these landline models feature a screen that displays the audio in the text in real-time.
- Text messaging: For some individuals with hearing loss, text messaging may be a preferred method of communication.
Memorial Hearing: A Houston Hearing Aid Doctor that Can Help You
Whether you’re feeling frustrated by your current hearing aids, have noticed that you’re experiencing hearing loss, or simply want help transitioning to life with hearing aids, Memorial Hearing is here to help.
Led by one of the top audiologists in Houston, Dr. Elly Pourasef, our team provides a full range of audiology and hearing aid services. From children to seniors, we are well-equipped to support you in the pursuit of a better quality of life. Modern technology has made hearing aids and other assistive devices more effective and affordable than ever, putting improved everyday experiences within easier reach.
Learn more about how to choose the best hearing aids for you and how to pair them with useful compatible devices by scheduling a consultation at our Houston audiology office today.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Pixel-Shot