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FCC Extends Comment Dates for Wireless Hearing Aid Compatibility Regulations Information

February 2015 – The FCC released a notice [47 CFR Part 20] correcting errors found in their December 23rd request for updated information to assess whether current hearing aid compatibility rules for wireless handsets effectively address the needs of people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. The December public notice was issued on behalf of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Wireless Bureau) and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) seeking insight into the current consumer experience, technical or other barriers to the provision of hearing aid compatible devices on new wireless technologies, and considerations to amend FCC rules for Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) compliance. The notice was published as an effective date instead of comment and reply deadlines. As a result, the comment and comment reply deadlines have been extended to: February 5, 2015 to file comments; February 20, 2015 to file reply comments.

This extension comes in response to a joint request by Telecommunications Industry Association, (CTIA)—The Wireless Association, and Hearing Loss Association of America to extend reply dates. Given recent deployment of LTE networks, Wi-Fi calling, and various other developments, wireless hearing aid compatibility issues are of grave importance to those who use assistive technology and those that advocate on their behalf. While some of the rules currently impose hearing aid compatibility requirements based on the underlying network technology and not on a device’s functionality, the FCC seeks to update the record on two principle issues:

  1. Should the FCC revise the hearing aid compatibility requirement to apply in a technologically neutral way to all mobile wireless devices that can be used for voice communications?
  2. Should the FCC consider moving away from the fractional compliance regime that exists today and implement a requirement that all mobile wireless devices must comply with the hearing aid compatibility rules?

To view a full copy of the Public Notice, please click the link below.

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.