NOTICE FOR CONSUMERS WITH HEARING DISABILITIES
Digital Wireless Phones to be Compatible with Hearing
On July 10, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
modified the exemption for wireless phones under the Hearing Aid
Compatibility Act of 1988. This means that wireless phone
manufacturers and service providers must make digital wireless
phones accessible to individuals who use hearing aids.
For more information, please go to FCC’s
Consumer Alert on accessibility of digital wireless phones
Wireless telephones are hand-held phones with built-in
antennas, often called cell, mobile, or PCS phones. These phones
are popular with callers because they can be carried easily from
place to place.
Wireless telephones are two-way radios. When you talk into a
wireless telephone, it picks up your voice and converts the
sound to radiofrequency energy (or radio waves). The radio waves
travel through the air until they reach a receiver at a nearby
base station. The base station then sends your call through the
telephone network until it reaches the person you are calling.
When you receive a call on your wireless telephone, the
message travels through the telephone network until it reaches a
base station close to your wireless phone. Then the base station
sends out radio waves that are detected by a receiver in your
telephone, where the signals are changed back into the sound of
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) each regulate wireless telephones. FCC
ensures that all wireless phones sold in the United States
follow safety guidelines that limit radiofrequency (RF) energy.
FDA monitors the health effects of wireless telephones. Each
agency has the authority to take action if a wireless phone
produces hazardous levels of RF energy.
FDA derives its authority to regulate wireless telephones
from the Radiation Control provisions of the Federal Food, Drug,
and Cosmetic Act (originally enacted as the Radiation Control
for Health and Safety Act of 1968). [http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/comp/eprc.html].
FCC derives its authority to regulate wireless telephones
from the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and
the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [http://www.fcc.gov/telecom.html