June 22, 2007

A total of 89 members of the press were screened for hearing loss during a daylong event at the National Press Club on May 15 that was organized and run by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), Alexandria, Va.

The event was scheduled during “May is Better Hearing and Speech Month” to draw national attention to the impact of hearing loss on Baby Boomers in the workplace. The National Press Club, located in Washington, DC, just a few blocks from the White House, is the gathering place for reporters from around the world.

At the Press Club, 175 press kits were handed out to reporters, focusing on the impact of hearing loss how people with hearing loss earn less than people with normal hearing. Sergei Kochkin, PhD, executive director of BHI and author of the study, spoke to reporters during the daylong screenings. In addition to the press kits, earplugs were also handed out to demonstrate “mild” hearing loss.

The headline on the press release was: “People with Hearing Loss Make Less Money, Survey Finds; Use of Hearing Aids Restores Lost Income by 50 Percent.” The lead sentences said: “Americans with hearing loss make less money than people with normal hearing, but wearing a hearing aid reduces the amount of income lost, according to a national study released today by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). The findings of the “Impact of Hearing Loss on Household Income” study were presented at The National Press Club.”

Contributing to the event’s success were audiologists from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), Sonus, and Towson University who conducted the audiology screenings, and Frye Electronics and ETS-Lindgren Acoustics, which supplied the equipment.

“Educating journalists about the importance of hearing health in the workplace is essential if we are to reach the public while they are in the prime of their lives with our important messages,” says Kochkin. “I want to thank all the organizations and individuals who supported us in this outreach effort.”

The same screening booths used for the National Press Club event were transported overnight to Capitol Hill, where they were used the next day for the Hearing Industries Association’s (HIA) annual Hearing on the Hill, (for related story, click here) which this year took place in the Library of Congress.

The May 16 lunch on Capitol Hill was attended by members of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. Sen Norm Coleman (R-MN) discussed the importance of hearing health and legislation he is supporting, the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act that would provide a tax credit up to $500 towards the purchase of hearing aids every five years for seniors 55 and over and dependents of taxpayers. The same bill is being sponsored in the House by Rep Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

Other organizations participating in the event, besides BHI and HIA, were ASHA, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA, formerly SHHH), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), and the International Hearing Society (I.H.S).

Kochkin said the two-day activities in Washington, at the Press Club, and on Capitol Hill, were valuable because they helped raise to a national level the issue of hearing health and the role that hearing aids can play in helping people lead more satisfying lives. For more information, click here.