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   Your Stories > Stories of interest > The Digital Transiti
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The Digital Transition and Hearing Aid Compatible Cell Phones
The Digital Transition and Hearing Aid Compatible Cell Phones

After February 18, 2008 most major wireless companies will have switched to an all digital network in the US. This switch spelled the end of the oldest US cell phone technology, 'Advanced Mobile Phone Services', otherwise known as AMPS.

The newer digital phones which the majority of cellular customers already had, allow services to handle a significantly larger volume of simultaneous calls, provide better voice quality, and give users the ability to transfer data via e-mails, text messages, and so forth.

Unfortunately, these newer phones also use higher frequencies which are more likely to interfere with hearing aids. The interference often creates a buzzing sound, making cell phone signals more difficult to hear. With AMPS disappearing, hearing aid wearers will generally be unable to make use of this lower frequency option any longer.

However, some digital phone models do offer a viable alternative. Determining which cell phone will be a good choice for those wearing a hearing aid has been made easier based on rating systems that have been implemented industry wide.

Here are some considerations:

  • Select a cell phone with an easy to use volume control.

  • Select a phone which allows the backlighting to be turned off, as backlighting itself can create additional interference for anyone using the telecoil setting on their hearing aid.

  • Select a 'clam shell' or 'flip' phone. These phones provide more distance between the users hearing aid and the transmission components of the cell phone thus reducing interference.

  • Consider a cell phone that offers a built in vibrating alert which is often preferred by those with hearing impairment.

  • Select a cell phone with a high 'M' rating. Both cell phones and hearing aids have an 'M' (microphone setting) and a 'T' (telecoil setting) rating. Users should compare ratings based on which setting they use on their hearing aid while using the cell phone. The higher the rating, the better the device should work with the other. Optimally, a cell phone would have a rating of at least M3/T3 or M4/T4. Shoppers can add the rating of the prospective cell phone to that of their hearing aid to get a combined rating. The preferred combined rating should be 6 or better for satisfactory results.

  • For those who use a 'T', telecoil, setting on their hearing aid, a neckloop should be consider which would allow handsfree use in the car, and, would provide the added benefit of creating more distance between the transmission components of the cell phone and the hearing aid itself. Use of the 'T' setting on the hearing aid by itself can help to reduce feedback and background noise.


  • Sources: consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/10/cell_phones_amps.html

    fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/analogcellphone.html

    tap.gallaudet.edu/voice/DigitalCellFAQ.asp

    accesswireless.org/hearingaid/

    About the author:
    The author invites readers to learn more about cell phones and cell phone plans before buying. Browse the article library and buying guides at homemedias.info, her online communications and home electronics store.
     
    Christine Peppler
     
     
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