On April 14, 2023, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) released an Order extending the technical standard transition period referenced in section 20.19(b) of the FCC’s hearing aid compatibility rules by six months. You may recall that section 20.19(b) requires that handset manufactures use exclusively the 2019 ANSI standard to certify new handset models as hearing aid-compatible starting June 5, 2023. The Bureau is extending this deadline while it considers the ATIS Petition for Waiver requesting that handsets that satisfy a reduced volume control testing methodology to be certified as hearing aid-compatible. The Petition explains that manufactures will be severely limited in their ability to release new handsets if they are required to use the 2019 ANSI standard, as the 2019 ANSI standard makes it impossible to certify handsets as hearing aid-compatible and manufactures must comply with the 85% benchmark. Many in the industry have agreed with ATIS’ Petition and have urged the Commission to delay implementation while the volume control testing methodology issue is resolved.
The Bureau found good cause to grant a waiver of the rule and extend the deadline in section 20.19(b) by six months to December 5, 2023. During this period, manufactures can continue to certify new handset models with improved hearing aid compatibility under the 2011 ANSI standard, but the Bureau expects that manufacturers will abide by their commitment to include innovative new technologies in these models, which will benefit consumers, especially those with hearing loss.
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