Beyond Hearing Aids: An Audiologist Wish List

I recently spoke at Beyond Hearing Aids, a symposium sponsored by HLAA-NYC, the NYC Walk4Hearing, and NYU/Wagner. In the audience were audiologist and speech language pathologist students from several local universities. It was a wonderful session full of informative talks on OTC devices, hearing loops, cochlear implants and advocacy. I was pleased to share the patient’s perspective.

I share an excerpt of my remarks below.

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Investors Are Getting Interested in OTC Hearing Aids

I was contacted recently by an investor at a prominent financial firm in NYC looking for my perspective on the new OTC hearing aid bill. His firm was trying to understand the impact of the bill on the various industry players and which companies might be the winners and losers from any disruption in the space. I didn’t have all the answers, but I found his interest very exciting! If Wall Street is getting curious, significant industry change is probably coming soon. This can only be good for people with hearing loss.

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When Your Audiologist Retires

“Dear valued patient,” the letter began, “it is with some regret that I will be retiring from private practice.” My audiologist was selling her business. I put aside the letter with a heavy sigh. Why did I feel like I had suddenly lost my anchor and the hearing loss seas were getting rough? It was time to find a new audiologist.

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The Gift Of Hearing: Joy, Hard Work and “Ba Ba Ba”

Thank you to Rayovac Hearing Aid Batteries for sponsoring my participation in this hearing mission. All opinions expressed in this piece are my own. To read my other post about this mission, click here

My advocacy work typically takes the form of writing or speaking. I focus on breaking down barriers for people with hearing loss, crushing stigma and promoting self-advocacy. I want people to live their best lives despite struggling with hearing loss and tinnitus. But I had never given the gift of hearing itself, until recently.

Rayovac Hearing Aid Batteries invited me to participate in a Starkey Hearing Foundation mission to Dominica. Rayovac supplies all the batteries for these missions. I was there as a hearing health advocate, volunteer, and writer, with the goal of capturing the mission experience in words. I thank Rayovac for this memorable opportunity.

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Why Should You Care About OTC Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids have been taking Washington DC by storm of late. First was the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report entitled “Aging America & Hearing Loss: Imperative of Improved Technologies” in 2015, followed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report “Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability” last summer.

Both recommended a new category of hearing aids — one that could be sold over-the-counter (OTC) similar to how people buy aspirin or reading glasses. And just a few months ago, a bipartisan bill that authorizes a new category of OTC hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing was introduced in Congress.

The idea has been quite controversial, with proponents favoring the improved ease of access for these important devices and detractors worried that audiologists would be cut out of the process, increasing the risk that the aids would be used improperly or even dangerously.

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