Friday, September 6, 2013

Opening Lines of Communication

As the new executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America I want to hear from you – members, nonmembers, Chapter leaders, and policy makers. I would like this blog to serve as the vehicle for that dialogue. I will be sharing information with you about HLAA’s activities and our progress in advocating for people with hearing loss and their families. I would like your ideas and suggestions for how we can all work toward addressing the many opportunities being presented to HLAA and our members. I would also like to know more about the challenges and successes that you are facing – whether you are a member or not. I will periodically post questions to get your ideas and opinions on topics of the day.

We know that the fall brings an increased activity with the FCC, Congress and state capitols. Let’s be sure that we are sharing information and strategies for engaging policy makers around the important issues facing us around hearing health care, access to technology and telecommunications vehicles.

During the next few weeks, I will be traveling to New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania to meet with HLAA Chapter leaders, members, and participate in several of our fall walks. I would love to meet you, so please introduce yourself. Talk with me about how we can work together to meet the needs of people with hearing loss and their families.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Report from Bethesda - April 2012

NIDCD Observes Celebrations for Better Hearing and Speech, Tinnitus Awareness this May
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health, joins the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) to raise awareness of conditions affecting our ability to communicate. ASHA recognizes May as Better Hearing and Speech Month, and ATA has declared May 13-19 as Tinnitus Awareness Week.

The NIDCD has created a new publication, Assistive Devices for People with Hearing, Voice, Speech, or Language Disorders, which describes technologies that help people with communication disorders to participate more fully in their daily lives. Also, you can learn how Tinnitus is diagnosed and treated.

May if Better Hearing and Speech Month
HLAA uses this month to remind people to get a hearing screening. Go to where you ca n find a list of places that offer free hearing screenings.

2012 HLAA Convention
The 2012 HLAA Convention will be held in Providence, Rhode Island, June 21-24. The complete program and registration is on line at Please get the word out about the convention. If you need marketing materials to distribute contact Nancy Macklin at .

Direct Mail Campaign
Each year HLAA mails out two fundraising solicitations. HLAA Works to Make Consumers Voices Heard headlines the spring direct mail letter sent early in April. The main topic is hearing loops but also covered is hearing accessibility and hearing aid affordability. No other issues could be more important to people with hearing loss. We are beginning to make good progress and look to a strong response.

New Video Series on Hearing Assistive Technology
The script has been completed and filming has begun for five DVDs on assistive technology. The series is produced by Knowlera Media, the same company that produced the popular Learn about Hearing Loss video series. In addition to being available on and distributed by HLAA to hearing health care professionals, Knowlera Media also distributes the videos. In February 2012, they reported: 

“Your [HLAA] first videos now have over 2 million views in our network. Overall, our online views are up sharply across the board in the past six months, due to the expansion of our distribution to over 1,500 websites, including Yahoo, AOL, NBC, MSN, Gannett, DailyMotion, Blinkx, AOL Network and our own growing network. We’re getting over four times more views right now than we did at this time last year. 

“Your videos continue to be among our most popular. We are working on a real-time tracking system for all of our videos on every website. All of the views on are real-time, and now that our distribution has grown so much, the views on MonkeySee are about 1 percent of your total views. 

“This is a great way for you to reach a national and even global audience. We are always eager to produce your next video series.”

National Activity
HLAA exhibited at AudiologyNow! at the annual convention of the American Academy of Audiology in Boston. HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat presented on Patient Engagement to exhibitors at the industry forum breakfast and co-moderated a panel with HLAA Board Member Joe Montano on Holistic Hearing Health Care. Past board members Kathy Borzell, Marcia Finisdore, and Anne Pope were also on the panel together with Ron Bibler, a financial investor, Kathleen Mennillo, executive director of the International Hearing Society and Kelly Wacker, assistant professor of practice at the University of Nebraska.

HLAA staff met with the senior station officer for the New Zealand Fire Service to discuss emergency preparedness for people with hearing loss and to compare the New Zealand and American systems.

HLAA staff attended the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) annual Awards Gala as guests of AT&T and IBM. The event brings together leaders from government, business, and the disability and civil rights communities to celebrate achievement, leadership and progress in AAPD's mission to organize the disability community to be a powerful force for change – politically, economically, and socially.

Brenda Battat, HLAA executive director, attended the National Advisory Council of the NTID (National Technical Institute of the Deaf) in Rochester, New York. NTID is facing some possible budget cuts from Congress and taking steps with that in mind. The school is committed to sustainability and taking steps to be environmentally friendly. Sixty-eight percent of incoming freshmen are from mainstream schools and more than 300 students have cochlear implants. Students are interning with a variety of companies including Dow Chemical. Students come from all states except North Dakota and Montana. With a large percentage of the faculty eligible for retirement, NTID has instituted an emerging leaders program to bring on younger faculty.

Advocacy and Awareness
The Regal Movie Theater chain has stated that they believe all of their theaters in Pennsylvania will be captioned within the next 12 months and nationwide by the end of 2013.  Cinemark has already captioned all of its movie theaters.  AMC has promised in its settlement in Illinois that it will caption all of its theaters within the next 24 months. HLAA member and chair of HLA-PA Captioning Committee will meet with general counsel of Carmike to learn of their plans.

HLAA sent a letter to Senator Susan Collin’s (R-ME) supporting the proposed Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Modernization Act of 2012. One of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) core responsibilities is to keep Americans informed about threats to public safety, but the current public alert and warning system is not always accessible to people with hearing loss. The proposed legislation updates the system to incorporate multiple communication technologies and adapt to emerging technology, and it requires the system to reach people with hearing loss and other disabled people.  The bill also ensures that organizations representing people with hearing loss will sit on an advisory committee that will make recommendations on modernization of the system, keeping people with hearing loss engaged with Federal agencies during this process.  

On April 9, 2012, The Washington Post published excellent articles about hearing aids and loop systems. Below is the link to the online versions:

IDA Competition for Hearing Loss Awareness Campaign
More than 250 million people worldwide have hearing loss and 80 percent go untreated. HLAA members are encouraged to submit ideas for the awareness campaign of the Ida Institute Ideas Competition. Please go to where you can read other people’s ideas, comment on them and submit your own. This is a global collaborative effort to create ideas to raise awareness about hearing loss and encourage people with hearing loss to take action and live life to the fullest. HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat was filmed in an interview for the Ida Institute Ideas Competition promotional video and is a member of the judging panel.

HLAA Spokesperson and National Walk4Hearing Business Chair Named
HLAA held an all-day strategy meeting with Chris Artinian, former CEO of Morton’s The Steakhouse restaurants and a member of the family profiled in the movie, Sound and Fury. Chris has agreed to be the HLAA spokesperson and National Walk4Hearing business chair as well as the Chicago Walk4Hearing business chair. We will produce some PSAs for use by all media. Chris and his son Peter, who has cochlear implants, will attend the HLAA Convention in Rhode Island, June 21-24, 2012, and speak about his new role at the convention’s opening session.

Hearing Aids at Discounted Prices
In addition to United HealthCare’s direct-to-consumer hearing aid benefit program – hi HealthInnovations, a second health insurance company, Aetna, has introduced a hearing care discount option to its Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members.

HLAA met with the ASHA executive director and audiology practices staff to discuss issues surrounding the hi HealthInnovations direct-to-consumer hearing health care services and other issues. ASHA is going to be promoting itemization of audiology services to its members.