Washington, December 16, 2022 – Today, the ATIS-administered Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Task Force delivered its Final Report to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Achieving the mission set forth in its Charter, the Final Report recommends to the FCC a path to achieving 100% hearing aid compatibility for wireless handsets. In particular, it calls on the FCC to ensure current technology is supported while leveraging new wireless connectivity technologies and accounting for intervening developments and innovations over the last few years. This includes Bluetooth, which consumers have embraced to couple their hearing aids with their wireless handsets.
“ATIS is pleased to have convened the HAC Task Force, which represents key companies and consumer advocacy organizations working in this area,” said ATIS President and CEO Susan Miller. “The expertise brought to this effort, both technical and consumer-focused, has contributed to development of consensus-based recommendations that will help those with hearing loss have a satisfying listening experience on their mobile devices into the future.”
The HAC Task Force is the result of the landmark Joint Consensus Proposal among organizations representing the interests of people with hearing loss, service providers, and handset manufacturers. The Joint Consensus Proposal Signatories included Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), CTIA, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The FCC accepted and adopted the Joint Consensus Proposal and invited industry stakeholders and advocates for consumers with hearing loss to develop the HAC Task Force to determine whether a 100% HAC deployment benchmark is achievable considering both technical and market conditions.
“Consumers with hearing loss are eager adopters of technology that is accessible,” said Lise Hamlin, HLAA, HAC Task Force Vice Chair. “We are pleased to have been part of this Task Force that worked hard to build consensus on recommendations for the FCC, moving the ball forward and looking to ensure wireless handsets are accessible to people with hearing loss.”
As of December 2022, the member organizations represented by the HAC Task Force were Apple, AT&T, CCA, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, CTIA, Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center at Gallaudet University, Element, Google, Hearing Industries Association, HLAA, Julstrom Consulting and Development, Mobile & Wireless Forum, NAD, Nuheara Limited, Samsung Electronics America, T-Mobile USA, TDI, TIA, Union Telephone Company, UScellular and Verizon.
“The Task Force is thrilled to present its recommendations for the future of handset hearing device compatibility to the FCC,” said James Craig, HAC Task Force Chair, Apple Accessibility Standards. “Consumer advocates and industry representatives worked hand-in-hand for years to offer the FCC a path forward to 100% handset compatibility, per our charter. We are confident that the recommendations outlined in this report will help ensure the best outcome for all Americans, especially those with hearing loss who rely on this technology.”
“We’d like to congratulate the ATIS HAC Task Force for their tireless efforts, collaboration, and open dialogue that’s helped deliver a significant improvement in technology supporting the ability of people with hearing loss to effectively communicate using mobile devices,” said Drew Blackard, Samsung Electronics America VP of Mobile Product Management. “At Samsung, we’re committed to delivering innovative technology that’s inclusive and accessible to everyone.”
“Accessibility technology offers life-changing benefits for elderly people and those living with disabilities,” said Gary Shapiro, CTA CEO and President. “The work of the HAC Task Force is a step forward in ensuring that consumers have access to the most innovative hearing assistive technology.”
“CTIA commends the HAC Task Force for developing forward-looking recommendations that set a path for 100% wireless handset compatibility,” said CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker. “Wireless offers opportunity and connectivity to Americans of all abilities, needs and situations, and we are proud to have served on this important Task Force. This report is the result of years of strong collaboration between the accessibility community and the wireless industry that promotes innovation, reflects marketplace developments and will benefit consumers with hearing loss.”
The full set of recommendations can be found in the Hearing Aid Compatibility Task Force Final Report and Recommendation.