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January 2, 2014
Enforcement Advisory No. 2014-01
HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY FOR WIRELESS TELEPHONES
WIRELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS ADVISED TO TIMELY FILE HEARING AID
COMPATIBILITY STATUS REPORTS AND ENSURE ACCURATE AND COMPLETE REPORTING
Annual Compliance Filing for Service Providers Due January 15, 2014
The Enforcement Bureau reminds wireless service providers, including
resellers, of their obligation to report on compliance with the hearing
aid compatibility rules on or before January 15, 2014. The hearing aid
compatibility rules ensure that individuals with hearing loss can fully
access advanced wireless phone services without excessive feedback or
The Commission remains committed to ensuring that individuals with hearing
loss are not denied the public safety and convenience benefits of digital
wireless telephony. The Commission adopted its first hearing aid
compatibility rules in 2003, and service providers should now have in
place robust programs to ensure compliance. The Bureau will continue to
take aggressive enforcement action against companies that violate these
important rules. In 2013, the Enforcement Bureau proposed more than $1.4
million in penalties for violations of the hearing aid compatibility
rules. Since 2007, the Commission has taken hearing aid compatibility
enforcement actions totaling more than $4.3 million.
What do the hearing aid compatibility rules require? FCC rules require
most wireless service providers to offer a minimum number of hearing
aid-compatible handset models to make their products accessible to
consumers with hearing loss. To ensure that consumers have access to
up-to-date information on the availability of those handset models, FCC
rules also require service providers to submit periodic status reports and
to post specific information on their websites. The status reports and web
content provide valuable information to the public concerning the
technical testing and commercial availability of hearing aid-compatible
How important is accurate reporting? All filers must accurately report
their handset offerings in their annual status reports.^ Inaccurate or
incomplete reports hamper the Commission's ability to monitor the
deployment of hearing aid-compatible handsets and impede compliance with
the hearing aid compatibility rules. One common error that has led to
inaccurate reporting occurs when service providers mistakenly report only
those handset models that were "sold" to consumers instead of all handset
models "offered," as required by the rules.^ The Bureau also regularly
finds inaccuracies in the information reported about each handset,
including the hearing aid compatibility rating, model name, and FCC ID, as
well as the period during which handset models were offered.
Unfortunately, these errors may then be replicated by other entities.^ The
Enforcement Bureau urges all filers to review their status reports
carefully before submission to ensure their accuracy, and to timely amend
their reports if errors are subsequently discovered.^ The Commission may
take separate enforcement actions to address the filing of inaccurate or
incomplete reports if this problem persists.
What happens if service providers or manufacturers do not comply with the
rules? Failure to comply with the hearing aid compatibility rules may
result in the imposition of substantial penalties.
* Violations of handset deployment requirements may result in monetary
forfeitures starting at $15,000 per violation. Since 2012, the
Commission has applied the $15,000 base forfeiture to each failure to
offer a hearing aid-compatible handset during each month of the
* Violations of the status reporting and website posting requirements
may result in monetary forfeitures starting at $6,000 per violation.
The Commission may adjust these base forfeitures based on aggravating or
mitigating factors. The Communications Act and Commission rules authorize
forfeitures against a common carrier up to $160,000 for each violation, or
for each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1,575,000 for
a single act or failure to act.^
Need more information? To file a hearing aid compatibility status report,
visit http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac. For information regarding enforcement
of the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules, please contact Pamera D.
Hairston, (202) 418-1165, Pamera.Hairston@fcc.gov, or John D. Poutasse,
(202) 418-2172, John.Poutasse@fcc.gov, of the Enforcement Bureau. For
general information on the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules,
including the filing of status reports, contact Michael Rowan, (202)
418-1883, Michael.Rowan@fcc.gov, or Eli Johnson, (202) 418-1395,
Eli.Johnson@fcc.gov of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities
(Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202)
418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). You may also contact the
Enforcement Bureau on its TTY line at (202) 418-1148 for further
information about this Enforcement Advisory, or the FCC on its TTY line at
1-888-Tell-FCC (1-888-835-5322) for further information about the wireless
hearing aid compatibility rules. Media inquiries should be directed to
Mark Wigfield, (202) 418-0253, Mark Wigfield@fcc.gov.
Issued by: P. Michele Ellison, Chief, Enforcement Bureau
^ ^ See 47 C.F.R. S 20.19(i).
^ See id. S 20.19(i)(3)(i) ("Reports filed by service providers must
include: (i) [c]ompliant handset models offered to customers since the
most recent report . . . .").
^ The FCC's Equipment Authorization System is the most reliable source for
information on a handset's hearing aid compatibility rating. The Equipment
Authorization System is an electronic database of all equipment certified
under FCC authority. See http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid/.
^ Filers are reminded that they must click on both the "Certify Filing"
and "Submit Filing" buttons to submit their status reports successfully.
Filers will receive a confirmation number after submission. Status reports
may be updated at any time prior to the filing deadline. A previously
submitted status report that has been updated but not re-submitted before
the filing deadline will revert to "Saved" status and does not constitute
a "Submitted" report.
^ See T-Mobile USA, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 27
FCC Rcd 4405, 4415, paras. 22-23 (2012).
^ See 47 U.S.C. S 503(b)(2)(B); 47 C.F.R. S 1.80(b)(3).
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FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY
* The window for service providers to file their Hearing Aid
Compatibility Status Reports on FCC Form 655 opened on December 16,
2013, and closes on January 15, 2014.
* Service providers must report all handsets offered, review their
filings for accuracy and completeness prior to submission, and submit
timely amendments (i.e., by the January 15 deadline) as may be
necessary to correct any errors.
Federal Communications Commission
445 12^th St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500