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Hearing Aid Compatible Phones: What to Know Before You Buy

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a hearing aid sitting in a hand against a blue background

When living with hearing impairment and looking for a technical experience that’ll suit you perfectly, the smartphone you purchase is incredibly important. They’re a big part of life in the modern day and age and quite a few lifestyles and careers require a strong and stable phone connection. 

When you have a hearing aid to consider, shopping for a new phone might seem a bit harder. You’ve got to keep quite a few things in mind, other than the obvious of aesthetics and price point. 

So, before you invest in any specialized technology to make your life easier, there are a few things you should find out first. Let’s go through three of the main points to know before you buy: 

Know your hearing aid compatibility (HAC) ratings

Every phone out there will have one, but it’s the right level of HAC that you’ll need to keep in mind. 

Phones are graded in two different areas:

  • The M rating, which defines the microphone capability and whether it’s meant to be used with a hearing aid. 
  • The T rating, which defines whether a phone is designed to be used with a hearing aid using a telecoil. Depending on the age of your hearing aid, the telecoil will automatically change to be used with the phone in your hand. If your piece is older, you’ll have to make the switch manually. 

Now, any rating above a three, in both categories, is a safe bet for you and your needs. And now that you do know them, there a couple of other points that bear thinking about. 

Most smartphone technology has hearing impairment needs in mind 

Most, but not all. After all, you’re not alone in your experience; considering nearly 50 million Americans are living with hearing impairment, it’s a big factor that goes into making a new phone. 

In most places, all public and private use phones must be hearing aid compatible, so if you buy something from the last 10 or so years, you’ll have a perfectly working phone for your needs. Now, if you think you’re limited in your smartphone buying options, you can lay your worries to rest. More accessibility features mean a bigger market to sell to; some big names are still safe, working options for you here. 

Everything from the Apple iPhone five onwards to the Samsung Galaxy series, are hearing aid compatible with key accessibility features inbuilt. You can also pick up a Nokia Lumia model, or a Motorola Moto and rest easy in the knowledge that the technology has options for you. Even the classic Blackberry model has a high HAC rating, if you’re someone who leads a busy lifestyle and constantly needs to keep their finger on the pulse. 

You can easily access any and all hearing aid compatibility options via the settings menu or app. 

Some smartphones suit specific levels of hearing loss better

Of course, not all smartphones are going to have the same HAC rating. They won’t all be suited to specific hearing needs – depending on your level of hearing loss, you might find one model to be better for your convenience than another. A little bit of research into this, as well as being aware of your hearing-impaired level, means you’ll find the right phone as soon as you need one. 

If you’re living with mild hearing loss, and up to a moderate level, you won’t have to purchase anything with special accessibility features. This is where your knowledge of HAC ratings comes back in; look for a phone with a high M rating and you’ll be able to use your phone with no problem whatsoever. 

On the other hand, if you need a clear signal and always need one, you’ll need to shop with a T rating in mind. This means the phone caters to your hearing aid’s telecoil. Your telecoil may switch on by itself, or it might need to be changed manually. 

Buying a new phone can be a complicated matter. When you’re living with a hearing aid, you’ll need to take quite a few things into account. You’ll also need to keep an eye on the numbers. You can always get in touch with your audiologist if you need more detail. Or, if you even just want a bit of information about hearing aid compatible technology on the market, Alexandria Audiology can help you; call us at 703-823-3336. Our audiologists are always on hand and happy to help.