If you are like millions of other Americans, you likely own a cell phone. Current data suggests that 90% of American adults owned a cell phone as of January 2014, and approximately 64% of those adults owned smartphones. However, if you fall into the category of the hearing impaired, a cell phone may seem useless to you. Fortunately, that is where knowledge regarding hearing aids and cell phone compatibility comes into play.

The Effects of Hearing Loss

Approximately 20% of the adult population throughout the United States suffers some degree of hearing loss. Depending on the severity of hearing loss, owning a cell phone may seem like a moot point. You may ask yourself, "How can I talk to friends and family if I can't hear them properly?" Just know, you are not alone. Many people who suffer from hearing loss feel the exact same way.

Hearing loss can make communication difficult. It is often hard to hear what others are saying to you when they are standing right in front of you, let alone talking to you on a cell phone. In many cases, hearing loss can have a devastating effect. It can make you feel isolated and left out of conversations. Fortunately, new cell phone technology continues to improve, therefore allowing even those who are hearing impaired to feel part of the conversation.

Technology for the Hearing Impaired

Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission, cell phone manufacturers are required to provide phones that are compatible for use among those who have either hearing aids or cochlear implants. Many wireless carriers have pushed past the barriers of analog technology and into the world of digital services, which is good news for the hearing impaired.

Wireless handsets often have a Hearing Aid Compatibility rating, or HAC rating. You can identify these phones thanks to either "M" or "T" ratings. The M-rating references the cell phone's microphone mode whereas the T-rating references the cell phone's telecoil mode. Most hearing aids have telecoils, which pick up electromagnetic signals from the source of a sound.

The problem that most hearing impaired individuals do not realize is that they have to activate the telecoil mode on their hearing aid. However, once activated, the telecoil mode on the hearing aid can be used along with the telecoil technology of the cell phone. When you are out looking for a compatible device, it is important to understand that the higher the T-rating, the more likely it is that you will be able to use your hearing aid with the cell phone.

Must-Know Purchasing Tips

You should avoid purchasing a cell phone online at all costs, even if the reviews show positive results among the hearing impaired. The best way to determine if a particular cell phone is right for you is to test it out in the store. Let the salesperson know that you are looking for a cell phone that is compatible with your hearing aid or cochlear device.

Ask the representative if you can test the different cell phones to ensure it works well with your device. Furthermore, you should talk to your doctor or audiologist to determine the immunity rating of your hearing aid or cochlear device. The immunity rating measures how immune your device is to the disturbance of radio frequency emissions or RF emissions. You will experience clearer sounds when using hearing aids that have a higher immunity rating and cell phones that have a lower RF rating.

With the help of both your healthcare professional and a knowledgeable representative, you will soon be on track to obtaining a cell phone that is compatible with your hearing aid or cochlear device. As technology continues to improve, more and more people who suffer from hearing loss, such as yourself, will find new opportunities to communicate with friends and loves ones.