Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
Last month, Congress announced the introduction of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, a bipartisan bill that-if passed-would be a historic first step toward removing barriers to hearing health care. As someone who has lived with severe hearing loss my entire life, I not only want to give a voice to my community, but to ask for your support. As the World Health Organization reported, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of developing hearing loss. Here in the U.S., 30 million people experience age-related hearing loss, and yet, less than fifteen percent of them actually use hearing aids. Given the social stigma and high cost of hearing aids, which cost upwards of $5,000 each and aren't covered by insurance, it shouldn't come as a shock that millions of Americans can't get the proper help that they need. it's more important than ever to push for change to remove the institutional barriers to hearing health care. I work at Doppler Labs, an audio technology company, as the Director of Advocacy and Accessibility. We're deeply passionate about how people interact with technology in their ears, and as a part of that, the implications for the hearing health market. We're committed to helping open up more affordable and socially acceptable hearing health solutions. The proposed legislation for an over-the-counter hearing aid category could open the floodgates and encourage innovation in this space from new entrants, particularly the consumer electronics industry. With their resources, talent, and know-how, companies like ours could help innovate hearing technologies and bring new products to market much more quickly. For the last twenty years, I've advocated for socially acceptable, affordable solutions in hearing health technology, and for de-stigmatization and inclusion in the community. As a consumer with severe hearing loss, a board member for both the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and a director at an audio technology company, I continue to be a strong advocate for products that enhance the way we hear the world. I've been working with key decision makers-including members of Congress-and speaking at The White House and United Nations to promote affordable and socially acceptable hearing health solutions. With national attention on this critical issue, my hope is that millions of Americans with hearing loss will no longer suffer financially or emotionally just because of a disability. More than ever before, I'm hopeful that we're closer to creating new opportunities that will empower people in my community to live a better life. Because when that happens, everyone benefits.