Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
There are serious flaws in the logic that suggests making hearing aids available over the counter translates to better access to the technology and a more informed, technology-using public. Hearing aids are not the equivalent of holding a magnifying glass over the printed word in order to enlarge it for those who may need reading glasses. Consumers need real access and choices and this includes insurance coverage as well as skilled, knowledgeable professionals assisting those who experience hearing loss in identifying the best product for their hearing loss needs that will provide the greatest opportunity for benefit. I wore hearing aids for many years, until I was a candidate for a cochlear implant. I was an active participant in my process and I can affirm that without the guidance of skilled staff, I would have ended up spending money on technology (if I had been able to purchase it OTC) that would have been a wild goose chase and the likelihood would've been great that what I thought I needed and what I actually needed were two quite different things. This would have led to me feeling that I could not benefit from hearing aids, wasting my money on a product that was of little to no use, and the whole experience would have dissuaded me from ever trying to get a proper hearing aid. The quality of life issues that come from not hearing to the best of my ability would have be great, as it would have affected my ability to remain employed as well as engaged with family, friends, and my community. We need to help consumers make sound choices, and offer viable options, including making high quality technology affordable and covered by insurance. Thank you.