Hearing Aid Compatible Phones

December 11, 2009
FCC Fines Apple, Inc., for Violation of HAC Compatibility Act

On November 30, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) notified Apple, Inc. . of its failure to file a status report in violation of the wireless handset hearing aid compatibility (HAC) filing requirements. The FCC issued a notice of “Apparent Liability for Forfeiture” in the amount of $5,000 for this violation.

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-2507A1.pdf
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-2507A1.txt


 

Hearing Aid Compatibility Videos: Choosing a Cell Phone That Works For You

The Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (Wireless RERC) and CTIA - The Wireless Association® present Hearing Aid Compatibility: Choosing a Cell Phone That Works For You.

This is a five-part video series to help consumers choose a hearing aid compatible wireless device that meets their needs.  Each video breaks down the information consumers need into easy to understand segments.

The first segment presents information regarding Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) and wireless devices as told by a certified audiologist.

The second segment demonstrates a suggested “try and buy” process between a customer representative and a customer at an actual wireless carrier's retail store.

February 23, 2009


 

Good News from Cell Phone Companies!

Fellow advocate Janice Schacter from New York City tells us that both AT & T and Verizon now have websites that include listings and explanation of the M (microphone) and T (telecoil) ratings of cell phones they carry.

AT & T
http://www.wireless.att.com/about/disability-resources/hearing-aid-compatibility.jsp

Verizon
http://aboutus.vzw.com/accessibility/products.html

We have also learned that the Motorola website has had information about the M and T ratings for their phones for some time now. That information can be found on the following pages:

For basic information and FAQs about hearing aid compatibility:
http://direct.motorola.com/ens/accessibility/Hearingaid.html

For information about the different Motorola models, including M/T ratings:
http://direct.motorola.com/ens/accessibility/Hearingaid.html

For basic wireless accessibility: http://www.motorola.com/accessibility . The 2 sites above are within this website.

HLAA will update our website as we get more information from manufacturers and service providers. If you don’t see the information you are looking for here, be sure to ask the service provider or manufacturer directly about the phone you want to purchase and ask about their return policy. And remember, try before you buy—that’s the only way to be really sure the product you buy works for you.

Brochure available on purchasing a cell phone (in PDF format).


 

Captioned Telephones

November 13, 2009
Consumer Advocates Urge Federal Mandate for Captioned Telephone Services
Led by Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), representatives of consumer organizations joined together to support a federal mandate of captioned telephone services. Joining HLAA at the meeting were American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN), Telecommunications for the Deaf and hard of Hearing (TDI), and via phone, California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH). We met with an FCC representative in FCC Chairman Genachowski's office on November 5.

HLAA and others present pointed out that people with hearing loss who use captioned telephones find them to be almost equivalent to traditional telephones. We have heard from some people that it links them once again to friends and family in a way no other relay service can do. However, HLAA expressed frustration at the current system that is dependant on a patchwork of rules and the vagaries of state budgetary and legislative processes. For example, some states significantly limit the number of captioned phones distributed in state and some states will not allow a consumer to use their phone out of state. Consumers who commute out of state for work, or who travel out of state for vacation are unable to use the phone out of their home state. Consumer representatives requested the FCC initiate and complete a rulemaking to mandate captioned telephone relay service nationwide over the public switched telephone network. Consumer representatives left the meeting feeling encouraged about the possibility of a favorable response from the FCC.

To see our petition filed with the FCC in June, visit
http://www.hearingloss.org/advocacy/pdfs/SupplementtoPetitiontoMandateCaptionedTelephone.pdf

For more information about relay services.
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/trs.html

June 26, 2009
FCC Seeks to Refresh the Record on Petition to Mandate Captioned Telephone Relay Service (CTS)

Hearing Loss Association of America along with 11 other organizations recently filed a supplement to our 2005 petition requesting the FCC mandate captioned telephones. Captioned phones, such as CapTel, provide people with hearing loss who can use their voice an opportunity to enjoy the use of telephone services in a way that is very nearly the same as those with no hearing loss. We would like to see many consumers add their comments to the proceedings. Watch the HLAA home page for an upcoming action alert on how to file comments in support of mandating captioned telephone services. Or contact the Advocacy Department directly to see what you can do to make captioned telephone service a reality in all 50 states!

Below is the announcement released June 26 by the FCC:

Released: 06/26/2009.
CONSUMER & GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS BUREAU SEEKS TO REFRESH THE RECORD ON PETITION TO MANDATE CAPTIONED TELEPHONE RELAY SERVICE (CTS). (DA No. 09-1436) PLEADING CYCLE ESTABLISHED.

Comments Due: 07/27/2009.
Reply Comments Due: 08/10/2009. CGB .
Contact: Thomas Chandler at (202) 418-1475
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
TTY: (202) 418-0597

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-1436A1.doc http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-1436A1.pdf http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-1436A1.txt

March 27, 2009
HLAA Position Statement on Captioned Telephones in California

Hearing Loss Association of America recently learned that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) included a provision in its Request for Proposals (RFP) for Captioned Telephone Services (CTS) that would require the CTS Caller Assistant (CA) to inform all of the parties on any CTS relay call (that originates from or terminates in California) of the presence of the CTS CA on the call. This requirement is alleged to assure compliance with California state law that prohibits monitoring, recording, or transcribing of telephone conversations unless all parties to the conversation give their express prior consent or have received notice that such monitoring, recording or transcribing is occurring. Read more at http://www.hearingloss.org/Advocacy/pdfs/HLAA_Statement_on_CaliforniaCap_Tel_Privacy_Issues3-2009.pdf and at http://www.hearingloss.org/Advocacy/pdfs/HLAA_Cap_Tel_FactSheet_4_3_2009.pdf


 

Television

September 8, 2009
How is your television captioning doing these days?

Hearing Loss Association regularly receives emails from people complaining about television captioning. We’ve hear about delayed captions, captions that appear with letters dropping out, captions that are garbled or otherwise unreadable, and captions that are just plain full of errors. Captions that are not clear and easily read are not acceptable. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has oversight on broadcast, cable and satellite captioning, but they can’t know what’s going on unless we tell them. Make some noise! Inform your provider (your local broadcaster, cable or satellite company) about the problem first to give them a chance to fix it. If they do not solve the problem, be sure to let the FCC know. It’s up to all of us to keep the pressure on. No one else will do it for us.

For more information about filing a complaint with the FCC, see our webpage: http://www.hearingloss.org/advocacy/telecomm.asp#filing

And if you do send in complaints or concerns, feel free to send a copy to us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Hearing Loss Association of America sits on the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) and on the CAC’s technical working group. We will take your concerns directly to the FCC to let them know that there are still many, many problems with captions that have yet to be resolved.

Captioned TV: What to do if the captions are not working?
Call your TV service or TV station and report the problem. If you do not get satisfaction then the FCC's closed captioning rules require consumers to first complain in writing to their TV distributor, such as your cable or satellite TV service, or to the TV station if you receive television via an over-the-air antenna, before contacting the FCC.
If you are unsatisfied with the TV distributor's response to your complaint, or the TV distributor does not respond within about 45 days, then quickly contact the FCC with all of the complaint information listed above as well as your contact information. You must provide the FCC with full and specific details, including a copy of your original written complaint that you sent to the TV distributor, and their response, if any.
For tips on filing a complaint about captioned TV go to:

http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/tips_on_filing_cc_complaint.html


 

Legislation: House Releases 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act for People with Disabilities

HOUSE RELEASES 21ST CENTURY COMMUNICATIONS AND VIDEO ACCESSIBILITY ACT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

On December 21, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives released a draft bill, the long-awaited “Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.”  This proposal is a dramatic and comprehensive step forward for consumers with disabilities. It proposes to amend the Communications Act – the main statute that impacts the telephone and video programming industries – to add new consumer protections that will ensure people with disabilities do not get left out or left behind as telephones and television programming increasingly rely on digital and Internet Protocol (IP) technologies.  The proposals will allow greater numbers of people with disabilities to become independent and productive members of society, as well as to enjoy all the new electronic gadgets and devices that everyone else takes for granted. The bill was introduced as H.R. 3101 in June 2009.

IMMEDIATE ACTION STEPS!!!  To help pass these simple communication fixes that will bring communications into the 21st century for people with disabilities, please send letters as soon as you can to the following House members who are the leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (the committee that is assigned this bill).  Make sure to ask them for their sponsorship of the legislation:
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, (D-CA), Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee, Room 2204 Rayburn House Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chairman, House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, Room 2187 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.

 Ranking Minority Members:
 Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Room 2109 Rayburn House Building, Washington, DC 20515.
 Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Room 2370 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Also send letters to your own representatives if they are members of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, which will review the bill first (this subcommittee is within the full House Committee). Snail mail is preferred.

 Please send copies of your letters to:  COAT, c/o  AAPD, 1629 K Street NW, Suite 503, Washington, DC 20006, attn: J. Simpson.

 Your letter could help make sure that there really is 21st century electronic communication for people with disabilities!

 About COAT:In March 2007, a coalition of disability organizations was launched to advocate for legislative and regulatory safeguards that will ensure full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless and other Internet protocol (IP) technologies. Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology" or “COAT,” consists of 30 national and regional organizations dedicated to making sure that as our nation migrates from legacy public switched-based telecommunications to more versatile and innovative IP-based and other communication technologies, people with disabilities will not be left behind. View the press release at http://www.hearingloss.org/docs/COATAnnouncement4.doc.


 

Legislation: Key Laws that Impact Telecommunications Access for People with Hearing Loss - The Basics You Need to Know

Brenda Battat M.S., HLAA Executive Director
Outline of Workshop

  • Laws impacting telecommunications access
  • Provisions of the laws Issues surrounding their implementation
  • Agency oversight of the regulations
  • How to file a complaint

Section 508: Rehabilitation Act

  • Drives design of mainstream equipment purchased for use in Federal workplace
  • Covers Federal employees and customers with disabilities
  • Procurement is key effective June 25, 2001
  • Federal government serves as a model for accessibility

508 Requirements

  • Federal departments and agencies, including the U.S.Postal Service, must comply with accessibility requirements when procuring, developing, using or maintaining electronic and information technology
  • Unless doing so causes an undue burden (significant difficulty or expense)

Requirements Relevant to People with Hearing Loss

  • 17 of 63+ provisions address interests of people with hearing loss
  • Telephones, TVs, videotapes, DVDs, multimedia websites; IVR systems, and information kiosks

508 Resources

508 Addresses Access not Accommodation

  • Employees not required to disclose their disability
  • Accessible workplace through accessible equipment design
  • Removal of barriers to employment of people with disabilities

508 Enforcement

  • Complaints for non-compliance filed by the employee with the disability
  • Complaint filed directly with the federal department or agency
  • Complainant may file a civil action
  • Entitled to injunctive relief (not punitive damages) and to recover attorney fees

Federal Government Accountability

  • Section 508 coordinator in each agency
  • Information on compliance to U.S. attorney general
  • Status report to the President

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act 1996

  • Telecommunications products and services must be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, if readily achievable (without difficulty or expense)
  • If not readily achievable, equipment or service must be compatible with existing peripheral devices used by people with disabilities

Section 255

  • FCC called it the most significant opportunity for people with disabilities since the ADA in 1990
  • Requires access to a broad range of products and services – telephones, mobile phones, pagers, call-waiting, operator services

Sec 255 General Requirements

  • Access should be built into the design stage as early as possible
  • Access applies to:
    • Design and production of each product
    • Information, documentation and training

Requirements Relevant to People with Hearing Loss

  • Auditory information enhanced through increased amplification, signal-to-noise ratio.Volume control boost 20dB.
  • Non-interference with hearing aids and cochlear implants, wireless inductive coupling to hearing aids, IVR systems
  • TTY connectability and signal compatibility

Section 255 Enforcement

  • Access Board issued equipment guidelines 1998
  • FCC has jurisdiction in any enforcement
  • Informal complaint. Company has 30 days to resolve
  • Formal complaint Sec 1.720-1.736 of FCC rules
  • Company must have a 255 contact person

Sec 255 Complaints

  • One formal complaint from blind individual
  • Very few informal complaints from people with hearing loss
  • http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • 1-888-CALL-FCC (V) TELL-FCC (TTY)

Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Act 1988

  • Requires the FCC to “establish such regulations as are necessary to ensure reasonable access to telephone service by persons with impaired hearing.”
  • Provide a greater degree of assurance that hearing aid users can have access to hearing aid compatible telephones

HAC Requirement

  • Telephones manufactured after August 16, 1989 (Cordless 1991) must be hearing aid compatible
  • Starting April 1, 1997 all phones to be stamped with HAC
  • Wireless telephones are exempt

Volume Control Requirement

  • All telephones, including cordless, must include volume control after November 1, 1998.
  • 12dB of gain min., up to 18dB gain max.
  • 18 dB gain may be exceeded if automatic reset measured in terms of ROLR
  • Closed circuit telephones must be HAC and VC when replaced

HAC Requirements for Confined Settings

  • Hospitals, residential health care facilities for senior citizens, convalescent homes
  • Exempt are phones owned by resident or when alternative means of signalling in an emergency is in place

HAC in the Workplace

  • Workplace non-common areas telephones required to be HAC by January 1, 2005
  • Headsets exempt unless acquired specifically for an employee with a hearing loss
  • After January 1, 2005, “rebuttable presumption” that all phones in the workplace are HAC

Other HAC Act Requirements

  • All coin-operated and credit-cared operated telephones must be HAC
  • All emergency telephones, where people may be isolated, must be HAC (elevators, tunnels, highways, and workplace common areas.)
  • Hotels: 100% of guest rooms by January 1, 2004

What is HAC?

  • A phone is hearing aid compatible if it provides internal means to be used with hearing aids equipped with a telecoil
  • FCC’s technical standard for HAC is codified at 47 C.R.R. Sec. 68.316

Telecommunications Accessibility Enhancement Act of 1988

  • GSA, in consultation with the Access Board and the FCC, shall issue regulations needed “to assure that the Federal telecommunications system is fully accessible to hearing-impaired and speech-impaired individuals…for communications with and within Federal agencies.”

Provisions

  • Federal government relay service
  • TTY directory
  • Design standard logo for TTY
  • Research an interstate relay system
  • Congressmen to get TTYs for their offices

Telecommunications for the Disabled Act of 1982

  • The FCC has a general obligation to “establish such regulations as are necessary to ensure reasonable access to telephone service by persons with impaired hearing.”

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

  • Title I: Workplace
  • Title II: State and Local Government
  • Title III: Public Accommodations
  • Title IV: Relay Services

Title I ADA: Workplace

  • Qualified individual with disability
  • Reasonable accommodation
  • VC/HAC phone; TTY; VCO phone
  • Employee self-identifies and requests accommodations

Title II

  • State and local governments must ensure that communication with applicants and participants who are hard of hearing or deaf is effective
  • Covers 911 services
  • Courts, prisons, libraries, school systems, social service agencies, motor vehicle departments

Title III

  • Places of public accommodation (hotels, businesses, educational facilities, theaters, convention centers, museums, parks, zoos, health spas etc) must ensure effective communication
  • Exempt – private clubs and religious orgs

Title III: Telephones

  • Relays for general contact
  • TTYs for outgoing calls in hotels/hospitals
  • HAC/VC on security entry phones

Title III: New Construction and Alteration

  • Malls, Stadiums, Convention Centers one public pay TTY
  • One public pay TTY per bank of 4 telephones
  • At least one HAC pay phone per floor
  • ADA revised guidelines to come

Title III: Hotels New Construction

  • VC telephones
  • Accessible outlets for TTYs near hotel room telephones

Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services

  • Telephone companies must provide local and long distance TRS
  • FCC regulations – minimum guidelines
  • “Functionally equivalent” to conventional phone service