Washington, D.C. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) filed comments with the FCC on Monday, 14 February in response to its request for comments on existing Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) requirements. TIA urged the Commission to retain existing HAC regulations, which have been enormously successfully in promoting innovation and accessibility in the wireless market place.
HAC regulations require mobile service providers and device manufacturers to offer a certain amount of hearing aid compatible devices to ensure accessibility by consumers with hearing aids. Per the Better Hearing Institutes‘ MarkeTrak VII industry survey there are approximately 8.4 million people wearing hearing aids, of which a subset of 5.1 million people have T-coils of unknown orientation (polarization). The percentage benchmarks are a result of a consensus plan developed by consumers, industry, and standards organizations in 2008, with an agreement to review in 2010. TIA comments are part of this review.
TIA, which represents companies that manufacture and supply the products and services used in global communications across all technology platforms, urged the FCC to delay revising HAC percentages or revising technical requirements tied to the standard by stating in its filing that: “Issues concerning the ANSI C63.19-2007 standard should be revised after the 2010 standard is adopted and manufacturers have had the opportunity to test and obtain HAC certification.”
On behalf of its members TIA submitted the following comments regarding the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Public Notice:
“TIA members have been integral to the successful implementation of the Commission’s hearing aid compatibility policies,” TIA stated in its filing. “Consistent with its recently-announced Innovation Package of policy recommendations, TIA submits that by encouraging collaboration among stakeholders and the utilization of voluntary consensus-based standards, the Commission can continue to improve accessibility and encourage innovation, thereby meeting its statutory obligations under Section 710 of the Communications Act and maintaining the enormous success of the Commission’s HAC regime.”
In its filing, TIA also pointed out FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s “decision to follow the recent Presidential memorandum to Federal agencies targeting burdensome regulations.”
“TIA’s members – companies in the information and communications technology industry – are among the most innovative in the world,” said Vice President for Government Affairs Danielle Coffey. “President Obama recognizes that, while sometimes regulation is necessary, it is imperative that we carefully consider the impact regulations will have on bringing new and improved products and services to the marketplace.”