This holiday season, take a moment and reflect on the importance of communication. Civilization itself was built on humanity’s ability to communicate. It’s essential to anyone who’s ever expressed a thought, personally, artistically, academically, politically, or spiritually.

Exchanging ideas, imparting information, and sharing knowledge are practices commonly taken for granted—except by an estimated 28 to 30 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans who are challenged daily to express their basic needs. These individuals are the inspiration for this industry of hearing health care professionals, who work tirelessly to advance knowledge of the industry and create state-of-the-art technologies to make communication less of a struggle for the hearing impaired of all ages. And advances have been made.

For example, since I started editing this magazine, in 2002, the hearing health care industry has witnessed phenomenal strides in instrumentation options: cochlear implants can give a profoundly deaf individual hope to hear again; pocket-sized audiometers enable uncomplicated, portable testing of infants and small children; a growing list of assistive listening devices provide phone, TV, and conversation amplification for those who aren’t yet ready for hearing aids; and this year’s release of on-the-ear instruments offer full-powered aids to users who prefer discreet hearing assistance. These are just a few of the recent solutions offered by industry innovators that make life a little easier for those with hearing loss.

In addition, there is a growing number of industry professionals participating in public outreach programs and advocacy groups for hearing health care issues, including infant testing, hearing examination efforts, and hearing loss prevention. Through such efforts, hearing professionals have been responsible for providing their communities with valuable information on hearing protection, the effects of noise pollution, hearing loss symptoms, and treatment options. Without these diligent efforts on behalf of the hearing health care community, a full one-tenth of the American population would be unable to interact as efficiently as they can today. 

On a personal note, it is with mixed emotions that I announce my departure from Hearing Products Report. My tenure as editor of this magazine has shown me what is possible and illuminated its very productive future. In the meantime, the editor’s reigns will pass into the very competent hands of Danielle Cohen, who–with the help of her dedicated and talented team members, Glenn Datz and Mike Hirano–will continue to document the evolution of hearing health care and technology, and offer a forum for further advancements that we can only imagine.

A joyous holiday season and peaceful new year to all.

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Rogena Schuyler Silverman
[email protected]