Tuesday’s Federal Register publication of certain Hearing Aid Compatibility (“HAC”) rules imposing labelling, notification, certification, database registry and designated agent requirements for wireline handsets for advanced communications telephonic services, i.e., VOIP, (“ACS Telephonic CPE”) established May 21, 2018 as the effective date from which the rules’ two-year phase in requirements are to be measured. Accordingly, ACS telephonic CPE manufactured in the U.S. or imported for use in the U.S. after May 21, 2020 must comply with these regulations. The publication also establishes the same compliance date for certain labelling and notice requirements governing legacy telephone equipment.

The rules were adopted as part of the FCC’s October 2017 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, which also promulgated rules imposing a new wireline HAC volume control standard, a requirement for volume control in wireless handsets, and the elimination of an obsolete wireless handset standard. Per an earlier Public Notice, compliance with the new wireline volume control standard (47 C.F.R. § 68.317) must be met by February 28, 2020, and wireless handsets must meet the volume control requirement specified in 47 C.F.R. § 20.19 by March 1, 2021.

The labelling, notice and certification HAC rules published Tuesday, which require compliance by May 21, 2020, specifically impose:

  • labeling obligations for HAC equipment and disclosure obligations for non-HAC equipment (47 C.F.R. § 68.502(a))
  • certification requirements (47 C.F.R. § 68.501)
  • an obligation on responsible parties (usually manufacturers) to warrant that ACS telephonic CPE complies with applicable regulations and technical criteria (47 C.F.R. § 68.502(b))
  • a duty on responsible parties to provide ACS telephonic CPE users with instructions required by the Administrative Council for Terminal Attachments (47 C.F.R. § 68.502(c))
  • a requirement for responsible parties to notify a user that ACS telephonic CPE is not hearing aid compatible ((47 C.F.R. § 68.502(c))
  • an obligation on responsible parties to notify the purchasers and users of ACS telephonic CPE to discontinue use of such equipment when approval is revoked (47 C.F.R. § 68.502(d))
  • a requirement for manufacturers to designate an agent for service of process for FCC complaints (47 C.F.R. § 68.503)