Mobile phones have a history of interacting badly with hearing aids. The complex electronics in the mobile phones often resulted in interference between the two resulting in screeching, static, missed words or miscellaneous noises.Fortunately, advances in technology and new government regulations have made the question “Will this phone work with my hearing aid?” easier to answer. These regulations mandated new labeling requirements and ratings that help you to easily find a mobile phone that works well with your hearing aid.

The understand the labels, first you need to know that hearing aids can operate in one of two modes. Microphone mode is symbolized with an “M” and telecoil mode is represented with a “T”.When your hearing aid is in M mode, it uses the built-in microphone to pick up audible sounds from around you and amplify them to make them easier for you to hear.In T mode, the hearing aid instead uses an inductive process to pick up electromagnetic signals inside the phone directly, without the need for a microphone. T mode is standard in roughly 60 percent of all hearing aids.

The rating system for these two modes of hearing aid operation uses a scale that ranges from the lowest sensitivity (1) to the highest sensitivity (4).To be labeled or marketed as a hearing aid-compatible phone in the US, a cordless handset or mobile phone must have a minimum rating of T3 or M3.

Hearing aids and cochlear implants have a similar M and T rating system to certify how sensitive they are in each mode, and how resistant they are to radio frequency interference.If you know the M and T ratings for your hearing aid, to determine its compatibility with any mobile phone, just add the two sets of ratings together. A combined rating of 6 or more is considered excellent, a hearing aid/phone combination that would provide highly usable, interference-free performance. A total rating of 5 is considered normal and satisfactory to people with normal usage patterns.If the combined rating is 4, this is thought of as acceptable but not very usable if you make a lot of extended phone calls.

If you are shopping for a mobile phone online, you can usually use this combined rating to determine how compatible the phone you are interested in buying will be with your hearing aid. A better approach, of course, would be to go to a store that allows you to “try before you buy,” and actually use the phone you want while wearing your hearing aid, in both M and T modes.

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