FCC new rules to increase accessibility for the hearing impaired

Today, we take a significant step toward modernizing our hearing aid compatibility rules to keep pace with past and future advances in the wireless handset marketplace.” (Accessibility News International)

With these words the Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler commented the recently adopted rules aimed at promoting accessibility as well as nurturing innovation to benefit the hearing impaired. The two main outcomes consist of: an expansion of compatibility requirements to include existing and future wireless technologies and a call for comments on a consensus plan aimed at guaranteeing that 100% of wireless handsets available on the market will be accessible to and usable by the hearing impaired.

The expansion of compatibility requirements is an acknowledgement of the constant technological developments we face today, for instance IP-based services will now also be covered by the requirements. Such an expansion should encourage manufacturers to take into account the needs of the hearing impaired in the design of their products leading thus to an increase in the variety of handsets available to them.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is open for comments until the 26th of February 2016, and subsequently the reply comments period will close on the 28th of March, 2016.

Additional Sources: GAATES, FCC(i), FCC(ii), Deaf Network, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking