Wearers of hearing instruments often experience interference in the form of buzzing that may preclude them from using their cell phone. While the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 required telephones manufactured in or imported into the U.S. to be hearing aid compatible, cell phones were exempt. As analogue cell phones were replaced with digital technology, hearing instrument wearers began to experience interference in the form of a loud, audible buzz when using the cell phone while wearing their hearing instruments.
Several product solutions are available for wearers of t-coil equipped hearing instruments with the most viable option dictated by whether or not the cell phone is Bluetooth enabled. For non-Bluetooth cell phones equipped with a 2.5 or 3.5mm jack, the monaural or binarual NoiZfree Induction Earhook (shown at the right) is the perfect solution. Just plug it into the jack of the cell phone, place the earhook behind the ear and turn the hearing instrument to the T or MT position.
For Bluetooth enabled cell phones, there are a couple of choices. First, the NoiZfree Beetle H2-ST (pictured left) is comprised of a clip-on “Beetle” transceiver (far left) and packaged with a monaural induction earhook (center) and neckloop (far right). Once the Beetle is paired to the Bluetooth cell phone, conversations are wirelessly transmitted between the Bluetooth cell phone and the Beetle, enabling the user to hear the conversations through the t-coil of their hearing instruments via the monaural earhook or the neckloop. The Beetle H-3ST (pictured right) is also available and works in the same way with the exception that is it additionally equipped with a built-in radio.
Any Bluetooth neckloop equipped with a microphone such as the ClearSounds Quatro (pictured left) may also serve as an option as long as the patient has t-coil equipped hearing instruments. Simply pair the Bluetooth neckloop with the Bluetooth enabled cell phone and have the user switch their hearing instruments to either the T or MT mode. Access the cell phone solution decision matrix created by Oaktree Products to help identify viable cell phone solutions for all your patients with hearing loss from the OTP microsite available at AudiologyOnline. For more detailed information, check out Linda Kozma-Spytek’s free-to-view webinar on hearing aid compatibility for digital wireless phones or on the telecommunications accessibility update on cell phones and cordless phones.