Chapter 8: Audio Output from Hardware

  • 801  General
  • 802  Interactive ICT Within Reach
  • 803  ICT Typically Held to the Ear
  • 804  ICT Not Typically Held to the Ear

801 General

801.1 Scope.  The provisions of this chapter shall apply where required by Chapter 1, or where referenced by a requirement in this document.

Advisory 801.1 Scope.  The scope of this Chapter is not limited to support for speech output.  It is broad and encompasses products such as computers and portable media players that play music.  It also covers other audio sounds, such as beeps that provide information about a product’s operation.

Interconnected VoIP telephones and interconnected VoIP telephone-emulation software are addressed in 906.

Installed or free-standing non-portable products with audio output are required to conform to 702.

802 Interactive ICT Within Reach

802.1 General.  ICT that provides audio output as a function of its operation, when such output is necessary to inform, alert, or transmit information or data, and is intended to be operated within reach of the user, shall conform to 802 and 307.

Advisory 802.1 General.  All the provisions of 802 are “interactive and within reach of the user”.  The ICT in this provision may either normally be held to the ear or normally not held to the ear.

Examples of Interactive ICT within reach, normally held to the ear, which provides audio output include wireless and landline telephones. 

Another example of ICT, within reach, not normally held to the ear, which conforms to this provision, is a set of speakers attached to a desktop personal computer, where the audio output is controlled through knobs on the speakers, the keyboard, or by onscreen software.

A public address system is an example of a product that is not covered by this provision because generally users cannot reach it or interact with it.

802.2 Products that Provide Audio Output.  ICT shall conform to 802.2.1, 802.2.2, 802.2.3, or 802.2.4.

Advisory 802.2 Products that Provide Audio Output.  Examples of products covered by this requirement include wireless and landline telephones, computers, information transaction machines, kiosks, and some museum exhibits.

This provision does not require the addition of handsets where audio jacks are provided.  Nor does this provision require the addition of audio jacks where handsets are provided.

Users of hearing aids and cochlear implants may benefit by using assistive technology to improve coupling for hearing enhancement.  Examples of such assistive technology include silhouette inductors and neck loops.

Adaptors may be used to conform to the requirements of this provision. 

Examples of hardware connections that have commonly available adaptors include Bluetooth, RCA, USB, and RJ-9/RJ-10/RJ-11/4P4C.

Such adaptors should not be intended for communal use.

802.2.1 Conforming Handset.  When ICT that is designed for use in a public location does not require simultaneous use of a keyboard and produces auditory output via an audio transducer typically held to the ear, the audio transducer shall conform to 803.

802.2.2 Audio Jack.  ICT designed for use in a public location shall provide an industry standard non-proprietary 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm audio jack.

802.2.3 Hardwire Adapter.  ICT not designed for use in a public location shall provide a hardwire adapter that converts the product’s audio jack format to an industry standard non-proprietary 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm audio jack.

802.2.4 Wireless Adapter.  ICT not designed for use in a public location shall provide a wireless adapter that conforms to 802.2.4.1 through 802.2.4.3.

802.2.4.1 Size and Battery Life.  The wireless adaptor shall have a similar size and battery life performance to the ICT for which it is provided.

802.2.4.2 Without Assistance.  The wireless adaptor shall allow the user to pair the adapter to the product without assistance.

802.2.4.3 Without Cable.  The wireless adaptor shall allow the user to pair the adapter to the product without requiring the user to plug in a cable for each use.

802.3 Adjustable Volume Control.  ICT shall provide a user-adjustable control for the audio output level through speakers and audio jacks.

Advisory 802.3 Adjustable Volume Control.  This provision applies to products typically held to the ear, and those that are not typically held to the ear.  An example of ICT that is not typically held to the ear for which this provision is applicable is a desktop speaker.

802.3.1 Speaker Audio.  Audio output level provided through speakers shall conform to 804.

802.3.2 Audio Jacks.  Audio output level through jacks shall conform to 803.

802.3.3 Software Controls.  ICT with software controls shall conform to requirements for accessible interfaces in Chapter 4 (Platforms, Applications, and Interactive Content).

Advisory 802.3.3 Software Controls.  An example of a software control is a program that allows users to customize hotkeys to preset preferred volume settings.

802.3.4 Hardware Controls.  ICT with hardware controls shall conform to 307.  The controls shall be within the reach of the user.

Advisory 802.3.4 Hardware Controls.  The intent of this provision is to ensure that the hardware control for volume is within the reach of the user, in the part that a user has with them.

For corded products with audio transducers typically held to the ear, the volume control does not have to be built into the ear-level component of the product (e.g., handset) when a control for volume adjustment is provided within reach through another component of the complete system, such as the base unit of a telephone.

Examples of hardware volume controls are wheels, slides, and push buttons.

802.3.4.1 Wireless Handset Controls.  Wireless products shall provide volume control in a handset.

Advisory 802.3.4.1 Wireless Handset Controls.  Examples of wireless ICT products are mobile and cordless telephones.

Cordless telephones would not be conformant with this provision if the volume control was placed only in the phone base because it is not in the handset and might not be close to the user.

803 ICT Typically Held to the Ear

803.1 General.  ICT with audio output that is typically held to the ear shall conform to 803.

803.2 Volume Gain.  ICT with audio output typically held to the ear shall conform to 803.2.1 or 803.2.2.

Advisory 803.2 Volume Gain.  This provision covers ICT with an audio transducer held to the ear, which has two way voice communication, such as telecommunications products, and ICT typically held to the ear with one way audio output, such as kiosks with handsets.

Examples of ICT with an audio transducer typically held to the ear that are capable of two way voice communication are telecommunications products such as mobile cell phones and landline cordless and corded phones.  Headsets with self-contained volume controls are another example of ICT that is required to conform to this provision.

This provision also covers products with audio-only functionality that do not support two-way voice communication.  Examples of products typically held to the ear with audio-only output are information kiosks and museum exhibits with handsets.

The baseline volume in telecommunications products is called the normal unamplified level.  It is specified in industry standards ANSI/EIA-470-A-1987 (for analog telephones) and ANSI/EIA/TIA-571-1991 (for digital telephones).

Guidance on how to apply FCC regulation 47 CFR 68.317 to test methods for measuring received acoustic loudness specified in current standards, including measurement procedures for analog, digital, and VoIP telephones, is provided by clause 15.2 of TIA TSB-31-C, Telecommunications — Telephone Terminal Equipment — Rationale and Measurement Guidelines for U.S. Network Protection.

803.2.1 ICT with Two Way Voice Communication.  ICT with two way voice communication shall provide a volume gain that is adjustable to a minimum of 18 dB over baseline volume.  The baseline volume shall conform to ANSI/EIA-470-A-1987 (for analog telephones) and ANSI/EIA/TIA-571-1991 (for digital telephones) (incorporated by reference, see “Referenced Standards and Guidelines” in 508 Chapter 1 and 255 Chapter 1).

803.2.2 ICT with One Way Audio Output.  ICT with one way audio output shall provide a volume gain that is adjustable to a minimum of 18 dB over baseline volume.

803.3 Incremental Volume Control.  When ICT with two way voice communication provides incremental volume control, at least one intermediate step of 12 dB, or a series of incremental steps totaling 12 dB, shall be provided.

Advisory 803.3 Incremental Volume Control.  Some telephones increase amplification in steps through the push of a button.  For these telephones, this provision requires an intermediate step at the 12 dB level, rather than providing only two steps, default, and 18 dB.

803.4 Automatic Reset.  When ICT allows users to adjust the volume to a level greater than 18 dB above baseline, it shall automatically reset the volume to a level not greater than 18 dB above baseline after every use.

Exception:  ICT with audio output that is typically held to the ear shall not be required to conform to 803.4 if it also provides a manual override control that prevents the automatic reset and that conforms to the following requirements:

  1. The volume reset override switch shall be labeled as such and located on the ICT in such a way as not to be accessible to accidental engagement;
  2. A bright indicator light shall be prominently displayed on the front of the ICT and shall light up when the override is engaged and the ICT is placed in an off-hook condition;
  3. A warning shall be placed next to the light indicating that the amplification is at a high level;
  4. A caution on the use of the volume reset override switch shall be included in the users’ manual; and
  5. The ICT shall include a warning printed in braille that can be securely attached to the back of the handset, or, if the ICT has only a headset, above the dial buttons, to indicate that a high volume setting may be engaged.

Advisory 803.4 Automatic Reset Exception.  A discussion of how to apply the exception is found in Federal Communications Commission Memorandum Opinion and Order DA 01-578, in the matter of Tandy Corporation, NSD-L-00-17; Walker Equipment Company, NSD-L-00-22; Ameriphone, Inc., NSD-L-00-63; and Ultratec, Inc., NSD-L-00-193, regarding requests for waiver of volume control reset, 47 C.F.R. 68.317(f), March 5, 2001.

803.5 Magnetic Coupling.  ICT that is covered by this section shall provide a means for magnetic coupling to hearing technologies.

Advisory 803.5 Magnetic Coupling.  Examples of ICT that are typically held to the ear are handsets of wireless and landline telephones.  This provision also applies to handsets on kiosks used only for listening.

In addition, this provision applies to headsets, headphones, and other products with audio transducers that may rest on or in the ear.  Further, this provision applies to small ear buds with audio transducers which can magnetically couple with some hearing aids.

802.3.2 Audio jacks references 803 for audio jacks.  An example of assistive technology that plugs into an audio jack and that provides a means for magnetic coupling is a neck loop.

The term “hearing technologies” refers to hearing aids and cochlear implants.  Newer model cochlear implants are ear-level, similar in position to over-the-ear hearing aids.  Both types of technologies may contain telecoils that enable coupling with products held up to the ear.

803.6 Minimize Interference.  ICT that supports two-way voice communication shall reduce generated interference to the lowest possible level that allows users of hearing technologies to utilize the products.  ICT in the form of cellular and Personal Communication Service (PCS) handsets shall conform to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C 63.19-2007 (incorporated by reference, see “Referenced Standards and Guidelines” in 508 Chapter 1 and 255 Chapter 1).  ICT in the form of digital wireline cordless devices shall conform to TIA-1083, Telephone Terminal Equipment Handset Magnetic Measurement Procedures and Performance Requirements (2007) (incorporated by reference, see “Referenced Standards and Guidelines” in 508 Chapter 1 and 255 Chapter 1).

Advisory 803.6 Minimize Interference.  This requirement is met by conforming to the applicable standards for interference levels.  Applicable standards are:

  1. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C 63.19-2007 – for cellular and PCS handsets: M3 or M4 and T3 or T4 measurement rating.
  2. TIA-1083, (2007) Telephone Terminal Equipment Handset Magnetic Measurement Procedures and Performance Requirements - for digital wireline cordless devices.

804 ICT Not Typically Held to the Ear

804.1 General.  ICT with audio output that is not typically held to the ear shall conform to 804.

804.2 Volume Gain.  ICT shall provide volume gain that is adjustable to a minimum of 15 dB above baseline and that has less than 12 dB symmetrical clipping at all volume levels.

Advisory 804.2 Volume Gain.  Examples of ICT with audio output that is not typically held to the ear are speakerphones, information kiosks, and information transaction machines.

Accessibility for ICT that is designed for communal use and placement in public areas with high ambient noise levels may require higher levels of volume gain than with products that are not intended for such use.  A best practice is to for ICT to adjust volume automatically to compensate for background noise.

804.3 Incremental Volume Control.  When ICT provides incremental volume control, at least one intermediate step of 15 dB, or a series of incremental steps totaling 15 dB, shall be provided.

804.4 Automatic Reset.  When ICT allows users to adjust the volume to a level greater than 15 dB above baseline, it shall automatically reset the volume to a level not greater than 15 dB above baseline after every use.