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June 2, 2016

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Barbara Kelley
Executive Director
HLAA Strongly Supports Recommendations of the
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Report –
Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability

Bethesda, MD: The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the nation’s leading organization representing people with hearing loss, applauds a new report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the Academies)*, Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability. The groundbreaking report documents the critical nature of hearing loss and provides 12 recommendations that underscore hearing loss as a significant public health concern. The recommendations accurately reflect the needs, concerns, and frustrations that consumers face when making hearing health care decisions, including whether to seek treatment at all. HLAA is proud to be the only consumer organization to serve as one of the sponsors of the report.

Implementation of the recommendations will provide people with hearing loss greater access to accurate information, offer more affordable choices and options, and will empower consumers to take steps to address their hearing loss. The current hearing health care model needs to change to be more consumer-focused, and implementing the recommendations contained in the report would go a long way toward realizing that change.

The Academies’ report estimates that 67-86 percent of people who might benefit from hearing aids do not have them and addresses those areas of hearing health care that currently prevent many of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss from seeking treatment. Specifically, the report recommends “key institutional, technological, and regulatory changes that would enable consumers to find and fully use the appropriate, affordable, high-quality services, technologies, and support they need.”

“HLAA strongly supports the recommendations outlined in the Academies’ report. They clearly emphasize that the individual with hearing loss – the consumer – should be the primary focus in the provision of hearing health care. This directly aligns with the mission of HLAA,” said Margaret Wallhagen, Ph.D., chairperson of the HLAA Board of Trustees. “The findings in the report touch on almost every aspect of hearing health care, underscoring the fact that managing hearing loss not only requires far more than the technology of hearing aids but also involves family and society as a whole.”

“The Academies’ report keeps the individual with hearing loss as the first priority. The guiding principles of the committee’s work are philosophically in line with those of HLAA,” said Barbara Kelley, executive director of HLAA. “HLAA will be working toward seeing that the recommended actions are implemented. We look forward to working with all stakeholders as we move forward to improve hearing health care.”

Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability is the result of the work of the Committee on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults, which was convened by the Academies to study the affordability and accessibility of hearing health care for adults in the United States. It consisted of experts from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds related to hearing health throughout the country.

Dan G. Blazer, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, chair of the Committee, will be speaking about the report at HLAA Convention 2016, being held June 23-26 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. Dr. Blazer’s presentation will be on Thursday, June 23 from 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. The complete Convention schedule is available online.

You can read the Report in Brief, Recommendations, an Action Guide for Individuals and Families, an Action Guide for Hearing Health Care Professionals, and the entire report at nas.edu/hearing.

*The division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the Academies) that conducted this study was renamed the Health and Medicine Division (HMD); it was formerly the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

About the Hearing Loss Association of America

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), founded in 1979, opens the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, support and advocacy. HLAA produces the Walk4Hearing in 22 cities across the country, publishes the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine, holds annual conventions (Convention 2016 is in Washington, DC, June 23-26), advocates for the rights of people with hearing loss, conducts educational webinars, and has an extensive network of chapters and state organizations across the country. For more information, visit hearingloss.org.

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