The Hearing Loss Association of America-Delaware Chapters known as the Hearing Loss Association of Delaware (HLADE) report that Governor Markell signed HB 402, Delaware’s “hearing loop education bill” into law on July 19, 2016. The bill authorizes the Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers to establish requirements for providing notification and written information to potential customers about the operation and benefits of telecoil technology during the initial hearing aid fitting. According to HLADE, Delaware may be only the second state in the United States to have this law, and the organization hopes other states will follow.
According to HLADE, the Chapters worked on this legislation as a critical key to success for HLADE’s “Lets Loop Delaware” project and as part of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s “Let’s Loop America” project. In its announcement, HLADE formally thanked Rep. Gerald Brady (Wilmington) who was an enthusiastic prime sponsor of this legislation and to Senator Nicole Poore for her sensitivity, interest in, and recognition of the importance of the hearing loop legislation. HLADE also thanked the State Council on Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) for its endorsement of this legislation, all who contacted their legislators, and to Governor Markell for signing it.
HLADE reports they have found that consumers are not aware of the importance of their “telephone coil” (telecoil) or “switch” in their hearing aids, how it works, and how they can use it at home and in the community.
The Hearing Loss Association of Delaware (HLADE) says: “Not being told if your hearing aid has a telephone coil and how it works with the telephone and “hearing loop” technology in the community is equivalent to buying a car and not knowing how to turn it on or about how the features operate and can improve your driving experience before you drive it away.”
This hearing loop legislation was prompted because HLADE encountered numerous consumers with hearing aids who should have had their telephone coil activated, if appropriate, and found that it had not been. These consumers were experiencing unnecessary inconvenience and lack of access to adequate hearing in various venues such as churches, theaters, concert halls, and other places in the community.
Hearing aid and cochlear implant telecoils can reduce background noise, and reduce the distance between listener and speaker wirelessly. The HLADE says it believes it is the professional responsibility of audiologists and hearing aid dispensers to inform patients who can benefit from a telephone coil to know about it when they purchase a hearing aid. HLADE notes that the lack of this information significantly impacts consumers, and reports that it will work with all parties as requested to implement this law in Delaware and continue to inform and educate consumers, preferably verbally and in writing, that this is now required when a hearing aid is purchased. HLADE added that it would be pleased to work with all parties to create standard “hearing loop” information across the state.