REMINDER: Hearing Aid Compatibility Certifications Due January 31, 2023 (Filing Window Opens Tuesday, January 3, 2023)

Wireless service providers (including de minimis wireless service providers) must file their annual Hearing Aid Compatibility Certifications with the FCC for the calendar year 2022 reporting period by January 31, 2023 (by midnight ET). The filing window will open Tuesday, January 3, 2023[1]. The FCC Form 855 certification and instructions can be found here.

Service providers are required to ensure that 66% of the handset models they offer are hearing aid-compatible. Be reminded this hearing aid-compatible requirement for handset models offered will increase from 66% to 85% beginning on April 3, 2023 for non-Tier I service providers.[2]

By the filing deadline, each wireless service provider must certify whether it has been in full compliance with the FCC’s hearing aid compatibility requirements throughout the prior calendar year.

Each certification must include the following information:

Name of the signing executive and their contact information;
Company(ies) covered by the certification;
FCC Registration Number (FRN);
Website address of the pages containing the required handset model information (for non-de minimis service providers); and
Percentage of handsets offered that are hearing aid compatible. Providers will derive this percentage by determining the number of hearing aid-compatible handsets offered across all air interfaces during the year divided by the total number of handsets offered during the year.

If a service provider was not in full compliance with the hearing aid compatibility requirements throughout the relevant reporting period, the service provider must provide an explanation of the non-compliance.

Updated Website Posting Requirement

(1) Each service provider that operates a publicly-accessible website must make available on its website a list of all hearing aid-compatible models currently offered, the ANSI standard used to evaluate hearing aid compatibility, the ratings of those models under the relevant ANSI standard, if applicable, and an explanation of the rating system. Each service provider must also include on its website: A list of all non-hearing aid-compatible models currently offered, as well as a link to the current FCC web page containing information about the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules and service providers’ obligations. Each service provider must also include the marketing model name/number(s) and FCC ID number of each hearing aid-compatible and non-hearing aid-compatible model currently offered.
(2) Service providers must maintain on their website either:
A link to a third-party website with information regarding hearing aid-compatible and non-hearing aid- compatible handset models; OR
A clearly marked list of hearing aid-compatible handset models that are no longer offered if the calendar month/year that model was last offered is within 24 months of the current calendar month/year.
(3) The information on the website must be updated within 30 days of any relevant changes, and any website pages containing information so updated must indicate the day on which the update occurred.

Please note that service providers are no longer required to specify on their websites the level of functionality of their hearing aid-compatible handset models and an explanation of how the functionality varies at the different levels.

Updated Record Retention Requirements

Service providers must maintain internal records including the ratings, if applicable, of all hearing aid-compatible and non-hearing aid-compatible models no longer offered (if the calendar month/year that model was last offered is within 24 months of the current calendar month/year); for models no longer offered (if the calendar month/year that model was last offered is within 24 months of the current calendar month/year), the calendar months and years each hearing aid-compatible and non-hearing aid-compatible model was first and last offered; and the marketing model name/number(s) and FCC ID number of each hearing aid-compatible and non-hearing aid-compatible model no longer offered (if the calendar month/year that model was last offered is within 24 months of the current calendar month/year).

In-store testing. All service providers must make available for consumers to test, in each retail store owned or operated by the service provider, all of its handset models that are hearing aid-compatible.

Updated technical standards (47 CFR § 20.19(b)):
The March 1, 2021 deadline in the Commission’s volume control rules was delayed to align with the start date for exclusive use of the 2019 ANSI Standard of June 5, 2023. Starting June 5, 2023, service providers are required to certify that new handset models that they offer as hearing aid-compatible meet the 2019 ANSI Standard and the related Volume Control Standard.
Handsets may be certified under either the 2011 or 2019 ANSI standards during the two year transition period. After the transition period expires on June 5, 2023, handsets must be updated and recertified under the 2019 ANSI Standard if they were previously certified as hearing aid-compatible under an outdated standard and are later submitted for a Class II permissive change.
A handset model will be considered hearing aid-compatible if it is certified as hearing aid-compatible under an applicable technical standard for all covered air interfaces and frequency bands even though the handset may also allow operations on air interfaces and frequency bands not covered by that technical standard.
After the transition period expires on June 5, 2023, service providers may continue offering existing in-inventory (i.e. non-new) handsets certified under older ANSI standards to meet deployment benchmarks until they are ready to offer handset models certified under the new standard.

If you have any questions or require assistance with the Hearing Aid Compatibility Certification filing, please email Greg Whiteaker at [email protected], Hilary Hoyle at [email protected], or Colleen von Hollen at [email protected]
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[1] The annual Form 855 will be available for completion and submission starting the first business day after January 1. Be reminded the 855 certification eliminated the FCC Form 655 annual report.
[2] See Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Standards for Hearing Aid-Compatible Handsets, WT
Docket No. 20-3, Report and Order, (2021 ANSI Standard Order).