The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), a national organization representing people with hearing loss, applauds a new report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies*). The report, Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability, documents the critical nature of hearing loss and provides 12 recommendations that underscore hearing loss as a significant public health concern.

HLAA believes that the recommendations in the National Academies’ report accurately reflect the needs, concerns, and frustrations that consumers face when making hearing healthcare decisions, including whether to seek treatment at all. HLAA is proud to be the only consumer organization to serve as one of the sponsors of the report.

Implementation of the recommendations are intended to provide people with hearing loss greater access to accurate information, offer more affordable choices and options, and empower consumers to take steps to address their hearing loss. The current hearing healthcare model needs to change to be more consumer-focused, and implementing the recommendations contained in the report would go a long way toward realizing that change.

The Academies’ report estimates that 67% to 86% of people who might benefit from hearing aids do not have them, and it addresses those areas of hearing healthcare that currently prevent many of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss from seeking treatment. Specifically, the report recommends “key institutional, technological, and regulatory changes that would enable consumers to find and fully use the appropriate, affordable, high-quality services, technologies, and support they need.”

“HLAA strongly supports the recommendations outlined in the Academies’ report,” said Margaret Wallhagen, PhD, chairperson of the HLAA Board of Trustees. “They clearly emphasize that the individual with hearing loss – the consumer – should be the primary focus in the provision of hearing healthcare. This directly aligns with the mission of HLAA. The findings in the report touch on almost every aspect of hearing healthcare, underscoring the fact that managing hearing loss requires far more than the technology of hearing aids–it also involves family and society as a whole.”

According to HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley, the Academies’ report keeps the individual with hearing loss as the first priority, and she notes that the guiding principles of the committee’s work are philosophically in line with those of HLAA.”

Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability is the result of the work of the Committee on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults, which was convened by the National Academies (formerly the Institute of Medicine, or IoM) to study the affordability and accessibility of hearing healthcare for adults in the United States. It was comprised of experts from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds related to hearing health throughout the country.

Dan G. Blazer, MD, PhD, MPH, chair of the Committee, will speak about the report at HLAA Convention 2016, being held June 23-26 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. Dr. Blazer’s presentation will be on Thursday, June 23 from 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. The complete Convention schedule is available online.

Read the Report in Brief, Recommendations, an Action Guide for Individuals and Families, an Action Guide for Hearing Health Care Professionals, and the entire report at

*The division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) that conducted this study was renamed the Health and Medicine Division (HMD); it was formerly the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Source: Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)