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Event Description

On April 18, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission hosted a workshop to examine competition, innovation, and consumer protection issues raised by hearing health and technology, especially hearing aids.

30 million or more Americans suffer from hearing loss; and this number is growing, due to the prevalence of age-related hearing loss and the aging of the population. Hearing loss is a complex medical condition. Available treatments – including the use of hearing aids – mostly aim to ameliorate the symptoms and improve everyday function rather than cure its underlying causes, and may work better for some consumers than others.

Health and science authorities observe that many more consumers could benefit from hearing health care devices and related services, but do not take advantage of this option. For example, a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine estimates that “67 to 86 percent of adults who may benefit from hearing aids do not use them.” The price of hearing aids and related services is widely cited as a primary impediment to access.

The FTC’s workshop brought together researchers, health care providers, industry representatives, consumer representatives, policymakers, and others to examine ways in which enhanced competition and innovation might increase the availability and adoption of hearing aids by those consumers who need them. In addition, the workshop examined how to balance consumer health and safety issues with consumer interests in greater competition and innovation, and ensure consumers have access to truthful and non-misleading information about hearing health products and services.

Topics of discussion at the daylong event included:

  • Consumer Information and Search Costs
  • Innovation in Hearing Technology and Treatment
  • Innovation in Hearing Health Care Delivery
  • The Benefits and Costs of Regulation

To aid our analysis of these issues and various policy proposals intended to address them, the staff of the Federal Trade Commission seek public comment from interested parties. In particular, we invite comment on the following questions:

  1. What information about hearing technology and related health care services is available to consumers who may be shopping for these goods and services? How useful do they find this information?
  1. How are hearing aids and other forms of hearing technology commonly distributed and sold? To what extent are new sellers of hearing devices, as well as new methods of distribution and sales, affecting the range of goods, services, and prices available to consumers?
  1. How are innovations in hearing technology – including hearing aids, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), and other devices and platforms – changing the competitive landscape and expanding the range of viable options to ameliorate hearing loss? What other innovations and developments are on the horizon?
  1. To what extent are hearing aids, PSAPs, or “hearables” interoperable with different adjustment or programming tools, as well as other technologies and communications systems? What standard setting efforts are underway and how might standard setting further competition and innovation (or fail to do so)?
  1. To what extent might existing federal and state regulations be modified or streamlined to better accommodate new technologies and business models, consistent with promoting competition and innovation while meeting legitimate consumer protection objectives?

FTC staff welcomes comment on these and related questions and issues. The process for submitting comments is explained below.

Attending the Workshop

The workshop was free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is not required to attend this event, but is strongly encouraged. Please bring a valid government issued photo ID (government badge, license, passport, etc.). The security processing will include a metal detector and X-ray screening of all hand carried items.

Public Comment Period

The FTC will be accepting public comments through May 18, 2017, one month after the workshop. If you would like your comment to be considered for workshop planning purposes, please submit it by April 1, 2017. To submit a comment, visit this link: You may also read the comments already received.


If you have a question about the workshop, please email

  • 8:00 am


    9:00 am

    Introductory Remarks

    • Tara Isa Koslov, J.D.
      Acting Director, Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission

    Opening Remarks

    • Maureen K. Ohlhausen, J.D.
      Acting Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
    9:20 am

    Adult Hearing Loss: Recent Data from the CDC

    • John Eichwald, M.A.
      Office of Science, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
    9:40 am

    Innovations in Hearing Technology


    • Karen A. Goldman, Ph.D., J.D., Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission
    • Daniel H. Wood, Ph.D., Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission


    • Stavros Basseas, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Sound World Solutions
    • Brent Edwards, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, Earlens Corporation
    • Jani A. Johnson, Au.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Hearing Aid Research Lab Director, University of Memphis
    • Jan Metzdorff, President, Sonova Wholesale US
    • Dianne J. Van Tasell, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Bose Corporation
    11:10 amBreak

    11:25 am

    Innovations in Hearing Health Delivery


    • Daniel J. Gilman, J.D., Ph.D., Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission
    • David Schmidt, Ph.D., Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission


    • Rupa Balachandran, Ph.D., Program Director, Doctor of Audiology Program, University of the Pacific
    • Lucille Beck, Ph.D., Deputy Chief Patient Care Service Officer for Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services, Office of Patient Care Services, Department of Veteran Affairs
    • Kim Cavitt, Au.D., President, Audiology Resources, Inc.
    • Scott Davis, M.B.A., Chief Executive Officer, Sivantos, Inc. (formerly Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc.)
    • Gary Swearingen, J.D., Corporate Counsel, Costco Wholesale

    12:55 pm

    Lunch Break

    2:10 pm

    FDA Regulation of Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplification Products

    • Dr. Eric Mann, M.D., Ph.D.
      Clinical Deputy Director, Division of Ophthalmic & ENT Devices, Center for Devices & Radiological Health, Food & Drug Administration
    2:30 pm

    The Costs and Benefits of Hearing Health Care Regulations


    • Ellen Connelly, J.D., Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission
    • David Schmidt, Ph.D., Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission


    • Bill Belt, Senior Director, Technology & Standards, Consumer Technology Association
    • Richard L. Cleland, J.D., Assistant Director, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission
    • Rick Giles, ACA, BC-HISB, President, International Hearing Society
    • Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Geriatric Medicine, Mental Health and Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University
    • Ian Windmill, Ph.D., Clinical Director, Division of Audiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and President, American Academy of Audiology

    3:30 pm


    3:45 pm

    Informing Consumer Choice in Hearing Health Care


    • Gerald Stein, J.D.,  Bureau of Competition, New York Regional Office, Federal Trade Commission
    • Daniel H. Wood, Ph.D., Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission


    • Stephanie Czuhajewski, Executive Director, Academy of Doctors of Audiology
    • Barbara Kelley, Executive Director, Hearing Loss Association of America
    • K.R. Liu, Director, Accessibility & Advocacy, Doppler Labs
    • Lisa McGiffert, Director, Safe Patient Project, Consumers Union
    • Carole Rogin, M.A., President, Hearing Industries Association & Better Hearing Institute

    5:00 pm

    Closing Remarks

    • Daniel J. Gilman, J.D., Ph.D.
      Office of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission

    5:05 pm



FTC Privacy Policy

Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) or other laws, we may be required to disclose to outside organizations the information you provide when you pre-register for events that require registration. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, and as a matter of discretion, we make every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments before posting them on the FTC website.

The FTC Act and other laws we administer permit the collection of your pre-registration contact information and the comments you file to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. For additional information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see the Commission’s Privacy Act system for public records and comprehensive privacy policy.

This event will be open to the public and may be photographed, videotaped, webcast, or otherwise recorded.  By participating in this event, you are agreeing that your image — and anything you say or submit — may be posted indefinitely at or on one of the Commission's publicly available social media sites.