The Academy’s General Session featured a unique blend of song, humor, as well as the traditional updating of members on Academy initiatives in a talk-show format. Hosted by
Therese Walden, this year’s AudiologyNOW! program chair, was the first to be interviewed by Collins, and she provided an overview of the convention activities and characterized the event’s educational events as “the most engaging that has ever been put together [in convention history].”
Helena Solodar guided the general assembly audience through a tour of 20 years of Academy history, starting with James Jerger’s suggestion at the 1987 ASHA meeting that audiologists might want to form their own professional organization. A film, produced by Solodar and colleagues, chronicled all of the AAA conventions and initiatives, and included interviews with Jerger, James Hall, Michael Dennis, and many of AAA’s leaders and past presidents. Solodar pointed out that the 1st annual AAA Convention in
A special 3D shadowbox art piece and a time capsule to be opened 20 years from now were unveiled. The shadowbox art piece, underwritten by a grant from Widex, used photos and actual audiological instrumentation (eg, an old programming box) to show the progress of audiology and will be kept on display at the Academy’s headquarters in Washington DC. The time capsule contains an assortment of items relating to the progress of AAA, including minutes of board meetings, documents, photos, and other historic items.
AAA President Alison Grimes joined Solodar and Colllins for a discussion of current initiatives being undertaken by the Academy, including the fostering of future leadership, accredition, hearing awareness, legislative efforts, ethics, and professional standards.
Grimes says that AAA membership now stands at approximately 11,000 audiologists. She expressed a need for greater leadership among young members to grow the Academy, and AAA is launching the American Student Academy of Audiology, an organization for PhD and AuD candidates that will be organized into local chapters.
Additionally, AAA will convene an educational summit in January 2009 in
The American Board of Audiology (ABA) celebrated its 10th birthday at AudiologyNOW! 2008 and announced that it now has 1500 total
Next year’s AudiologyNOW! 2009 in
On the reimbursement front, Grimes presented a “Good News, Bad News” scenario. The good news, she says, is that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognize that audiologists should be paid for both cognitive and technical components of their work. The bad news is that reimbursement for audiology services is likely to decrease by 2010. Although the Academy has done everything in its power to stop the impending decreases in reimbursement, according to Grimes, it has limited influence because ASHA holds the seat and is recognized by CMS as the primary professional organization representing audiology.
AAA President-elect Patrick Feeney, who is also the chair of the organization’s Government Relations Committee, detailed the efforts behind the Academy’s efforts relative to the “Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2007.”A bipartisan measure, HR 1165 would allow Medicare beneficiaries the option of going directly to a qualified audiologist for hearing and balance diagnostic tests. Currently, Medicare beneficiaries with hearing loss or balance disorders are required to obtain a physician referral before seeing an audiologist. This bill calls for aligning Medicare “direct access” with programs administered by the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which allow patients to see an audiologist without a physician referral. Currently, Feeney says there are 80 cosponsors for the bill.
AAA will continue with its award-winning “Turn It to the Left” hearing awareness campaign, according to Grimes. Recognizing that the risk of permanent hearing loss from noise exposure is very real for individuals of all ages, AAA has initiated the campaign to raise public awareness about the dangers of exposure to high-level sound and to raise funds in support of noise-induced hearing loss research. The name of the initiative originated from a rap song, called “Turn It to the Left” , about noise-induced hearing loss written by musician Benjamin Jackson that was showcased at last year’s convention.
Grimes presented Academy President’s Awards to Solodar for her work in assembling the Academy’s history; the late Margaret (Margo) Skinner to commemorate a career of “passion for the profession, research, and life”; Carmen Brewer for her work with Ted Glattke on ACAE accreditation initiatives; Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, for her research and work on Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) initiatives; and outgoing Audiology Today Editor Jerry Northern and JAAA Editor James Jerger for their excellent work on the respective AAA publications. David Fabry has been named the new editor of AT.
A special Honors & Awards Banquet was held during the first night of the convention, and this will be reported on in more detail in the next edition of The Insider. Honored this year were Larry Humes, PhD, who received the James Jerger Career Award for Research in Audiology, and Distinguished Achievement Awards were presented to Kristina English, PhD; Judith Gravel, PhD; Roger Ruth, PhD; Jon Shallop, PhD; and Robert Sweetow, PhD. Receiving the Humanitarian Award was Howard Weinstein, MBA.
The General Assembly was punctuated by performances of The Watercoolers, a
Kris English, PhD, will assume the role as the new president-elect of the Academy on July 1, 2008, succeeding current President-elect Patrick Feeney, PhD, when he becomes AAA president at that same time.
Joining AAA’s Board of Directors are Deborah Carlson, PhD, Lawrence Eng, AuD, and Georgine Ray, AuD. Kimberly Barry, AuD, will serve a 1-year term, replacing Dr English when she assumes the role of president-elect in July. Other current board members include President Alison Grimes, AuD; President-elect Patrick Feeney, PhD; Past-president Paul Pessis, AuD; Carmen Brewer, PhD; Erin Miller, AuD; Therese Walden, AuD; Bopanna Ballachandra, PhD; Thomas Littman, PhD; Karen Jacobs, AuD; Pat Kricos, PhD; and Gary Jacobson, PhD.
In 2009, AudiologyNOW! journeys to