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Volume 42 Number 4, July/August 2005, Supplement 2
Pages 145 — 156


Abstract - An evaluation of digital cellular handsets by hearing aid users

Linda Kozma-Spytek, MA, CCCA;* Judith Harkins, PhD

Technology Access Program, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC
Abstract — Audible interference from digital cellular telephones (cell phones) has been a long standing problem for hearing aid users. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has lifted the hearing aid compatibility exception on cell phones and imposed a set of requirements effective September 2005. We conducted an experiment to determine how well hearing aid wearers are able to use commercially available digital cell phones. Hearing aid users evaluated the usability of six digital cellular handsets. The results suggest that certain transmission technologies create more annoyance from interference than others and that the type of hearing aid-to-telephone coupling (microphone or telecoil) can influence a user's experience of interference. However, the results also suggest that interference alone does not fully predict the usability of a cell phone for hearing aid users. These findings have implications for the American National Standards Institute C63.19 test and measurement standard that is used to rate cell phones' compliance with the FCC ruling and the education of consumers with regard to their expectations for cell phone use.
Key words: cellular handset, digital cell phone, hearing aid, hearing aid compatibility, interference, microphone coupling, telecoil coupling, transmission technology, usability, wireless telephone.

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