Summer Blahs. Hello September!

I’ve been in a summer slump – too hot, too wet. But starting this weekend I’ll be gearing up for an active fall.

Sunday is the New York City Walk4Hearing. This event is educational, supportive, and it is HLAA’s principle fundraiser. As president of the NYC chapter, I’m a member of the chapter’s WalkNewYork team. If you’d like to support our chapter and the national office at the same time, please click here and make a donation. Large or small, everything is welcome.

Better yet, come join us. Our team and teams from all over the Metropolitan area will gather at Manhattan’s Pier 45, right by the Hudson River at 389 West Street. Spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty, and much more. The Walk starts at 10:30 but come early and enjoy the activities for kids and adults.

Two days later, on Tuesday September 20, the first of our monthly chapter meetings will take place. We have a panel made up of hearing professionals who have hearing loss themselves. Some went into the profession for that reason, others developed it later in life.

Our meetings are on zoom, with CART captioning provided. All are welcome. You can read more and register for the meeting here.

Here’s the announcement: HLAA-NYC: 6 pm-7:30 pm.   Join us for “Hearing Professionals with Hearing Loss,” a panel discussion featuring ENTs and audiologists who will talk about how their hearing affects their work as clinicians. The panelists—some newly minted, some recently retired—are Viral Tejani, Paul Hammerschlag, Terrence Williams, and Sophie Racine. Sophie, who received her AuD at CUNY, now works at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

If you want to know more about the programs your Walk donation will support, here is some information.

In the past year, the New York City chapter has been instrumental in getting open captioning in NYC movie theaters, as well as captioning of intermission interviews during the Metropolitan Opera’s HD movie theater screenings.  Chapter members also led the drive for a NYS Commission for the Deaf, Deaf-blind and Hard of Hearing, which has been ratified by the state legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. Our meetings with Lincoln Center resulted in the inclusion of multiple hearing loops in the plans for the renovated Geffen Hall (formerly Philharmonic Hall). We are also working to get city legislators to reinstate mandated in-school screening for hearing loss. New York City is exempt from the NY State mandate. We believe screening is essential for the successful development and education of children with hearing loss.

And of course there are our 10 monthly chapter meetings. Go to hearinglossnyc.org for more information.

 On the national level, HLAA has worked tirelessly to change the way hearing aids are sold, and this August the FDA finally issued its guidelines for Over the Counter Hearing Aids. They should be in stores by October and will provide hearing aids at a significantly lower cost. Right now, OTC aids are for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. For those with more severe loss, this new competition may help bring down the current price, which averages $5000-$6000 per pair. 

The next step is to get health-insurance to cover the cost of hearing aids.  Currently, Medicare does not cover hearing aids, a proven health benefit to the 30 million older Americans who need them. HLAA has targeted Medicare coverage for hearing aids as one of its principal missions. When Medicare sets a policy, private insurers often follow.

 Hearing loss is not just a minor nuisance associated with growing older. It affects people of all ages and has been linked to depression, lost employment, cognitive decline and a greater risk of falls. It is usually totally treatable. All that stands in the way is money.

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For more about living with hearing loss, read my books: “Smart Hearing: Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better with Hearing Loss.” And “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I and 50 Million Other Americans Can’t Hear You.” Both are available as ebook or paperback, on Amazon.com

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