Hearing Aid Compatible Phones: What to Know Before You Buy

A pair of premium, smart phone compatible hearing aids

If you have hearing loss, regular phone conversations can become difficult if the sound is not clear and loud. It can become even more challenging when trying to converse on the phone if you’re out and about, and there is background noise to contend with. Technology has advanced at lightning speed in recent years, and you only have to look around you at a cafe or on a bus to see that everyone has cell phones in this day and age. If you want to be able to reap the rewards of investing in the latest tech, here’s a guide to buying hearing aid compatible phones. 

Finding a cell phone

Cellphones are everywhere, and they have revolutionized the way we contact friends and family and keep in touch with what’s going on in the world. If you’re looking for a new phone, which is compatible with your hearing aids, there are some steps you can take to make finding the best phone easier. Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all cell phones to be hearing aid compatible (HAC), so you should be able to take advantage of the latest innovations and choose from the best phones on the market. 

Mild hearing loss

When you’re shopping for a new cell, it’s wise to tailor your search based on your hearing capabilities. Some phones are better suited to mild hearing loss than more severe cases. If you do have mild hearing loss, you should be able to use your cell phone without using additional features, and if you don’t want a phone with all the bells and whistles, you should find it easy to source a more basic, cheaper model that does everything you want it to. Using a form of technology called acoustic coupling, modern-day cell phones work in harmony with hearing aids, with the device able to pick up sounds directly from the phone’s microphone. While you may be able to hear background noise, which can make holding a conversation slightly more difficult, you should find that almost any phone works for you. 

Severe hearing loss

If you have severe hearing loss, or you use your phone frequently, and you need the clearest possible sound, for example, you use a phone for work purposes; it’s a good idea to activate the telecoil in your hearing aid. This enables the hearing aid to direct sounds towards the hearing aid processor, bypassing the microphone. By doing this, you can eliminate feedback and produce a clearer sound that is easier to hear. When you go to a store looking for a new cell phone, it’s wise to test out different phones with your hearing aids. In some cases, the telecoil will activate automatically, and in others, you’ll need to switch it on manually. 

Compatibility rating

When you’re perusing the shelves and displays searching for a phone that is compatible with your hearing aids, look out for the M rating. This is a scale that runs from one to four that measures compatibility. Four is the best score and indicates that the sound quality and clarity will be high. An M rating of three is the most common. Most of the top-selling smartphones have a level-three rating.

Phone features

Modern-day phones are packed with features, and you may want to search for a phone that has specific controls or settings that make life easier, including:

  • Customizable volume and ringtone settings
  • Voice controls
  • Incoming call and text alerts
  • Speech to text capabilities
  • Unlimited messaging

Tips for finding a phone that suits your lifestyle

There’s a vast array of cell phones available today, and if you feel slightly confused or daunted by the sheer scale of the selection, don’t panic. You can ask store assistants for advice, which will enable you to weigh up the pros and cons, and your audiologist will also be able to make recommendations based on your individual needs and preferences. Some people are looking for a phone they can use to make the odd phone call or send texts, while others spend most of the day on the phone for work-related reasons. Your audiologist will be able to provide personalized suggestions based on how you want to use your phone and the degree of hearing loss. 

Many of us use a cell phone on a daily basis, and for some people, it’s impossible to imagine a world without 24-hour phone access. If you’re looking for a new cell phone, which is compatible with your hearing aids and suited to your lifestyle, our friendly audiologists will be happy to help. Call Desert Hearing Care today at 480-985-2544 for more information.