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TIA and Other Groups Continue Historic Effort to Advance FCC’s Handset Hearing Aid Compatibility Rules

Arlington, Va. (April 21, 2016) – Together with other industry associations and consumer groups, The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leading association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of high-tech communications networks, today filed an ex parte letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on behalf of the wireless handset manufacturers, carriers and people who use hearing aid devices. The letter provides further guidance for the FCC, following the development of a Consensus Proposal by TIA and the other organizations to ensure wireless handsets are accessible for people using hearing aid devices.

The effort to update handset accessibility rules  is being led by TIA, along with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, the Competitive Carriers Association, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Hearing Loss Association of America, and the National Association of the Deaf. In 2015, these groups announced a consensus proposal for incremental increases in wireless handset hearing aid compatibility (HAC) benchmarks for both manufacturers and carriers. The FCC incorporated that Consensus Proposal in its proposed rule and in the letter, the groups are now urging the Commission to adopt the proposal in a final rule and providing further details regarding the recommended multi-stakeholder taskforce to determine if a 100% compliance requirement is achievable.

TIA CEO Scott Belcher issued the following statement:

“The FCC took an important step toward advancing wireless handset hearing aid compatibility when it accepted the joint proposal developed by our organizations. We now urge the FCC to complete this historic work and finalize its rulemaking.

“As part of this, our letter to the FCC puts forward more details regarding an important aspect of the plan—the creation of multi-stakeholder taskforce with broad participation. This group will be essential for ensuring that progress towards greater hearing aid compatibility is balanced with the need for innovation that benefits all consumers.”

In the letter, the organizations identify two primary issues for the taskforce to consider:

  • whether the existing definition of HAC is the most effective means for ensuring access to wireless handsets for consumers who use hearing aids and encourages technological innovation and advancement, and;
  • whether the 100% HAC benchmark, if deemed achievable, could be satisfied through innovative approaches, including standards.

Contact

Ashley Simmons, 703-907-7704, asimmons@tiaonline.org

About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents manufacturers and suppliers of global communications networks through standards development, policy and advocacy, business opportunities, market intelligence, and events and networking. TIA enhances the business environment for broadband, mobile wireless, information technology, networks, cable, satellite and unified communications. Members' products and services empower communications in every industry and market, including healthcare, education, security, public safety, transportation, government, the military, the environment, and entertainment. Visit tiaonline.org for more details. TIA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and is a proud sponsor of ANSI’s Standards Boost Business campaign. Visit www.standardsboostbusiness.org for details.

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