October 2005 - Is there a place close to you where you can go to try
out all the various assistive technology that can make your life so much
easier? If not, maybe your organization can set one up. Here
are complete instructions on doing so, including letters to sponsors,
questionnaires for visitors, a sample budget, and everything else you'll
September 2005 - People with hearing loss focus on
hearing aids, CART, and possibly ALDs, and miss so many other important
resources. Here are Cathy Kooser's thoughts on the
October 2001 - Bill Proposes Hearing Benefits Under
an open letter from Nancy Kingsley as published in USA-L News.
by Cathy Kooser
Editor: I was a bit surprised by some of the responses to our recent
questionnaire, or rather by the lack of responses that dealt with what I
consider to be important OHL issues. Respondents focused on movie
captioning, CART, and the need to educate OHL folks, services providers,
and the general public. NOT mentioned were a bunch of issues that are
typically covered in a "Living with Hearing Loss" workshop.
Here to provide additional information is Cathy Kooser (email@example.com),
who teaches two-day workshops on a regular basis.
One thing I find particularly interesting is how we automatically
jump to the need for hearing aids, ALDs, CART (communication access)
etc. and do not recognize how we can also help ourselves by learning
appropriate communication strategies. Now, I'm not suggesting that these
communication aids are not important, because they are. However, quite
often, we misunderstand because WE use ineffective communication
strategies, therefore everyone around us also uses them. For example,
simply stating, "what?" when we don't understand. We don't
identify the source of the communication breakdown, nor what needs to be
corrected, nor do we inform the person who we are communicating with
what our needs are. Even the "elite" of the oral hearing loss
population is ignorant of strategies that can be used to help them
We are TREMENDOUSLY ignorant of the psychosocial ramifications of
hearing loss. The vast majority of us do not recognize how our hearing
loss has affected us emotionally, nor how it has affected our
relationships. We don't make the connection between our hearing loss and
our depression, between our hearing loss and our anxiety, between our
hearing loss and our low self-esteem, etc. We even don't recognize how
our hearing loss is tied into our physical and mental exhaustion.
We are vastly uneducated about hearing loss and how it affects us
period!!!! It will take far more than just communication access to get
us to where we all need to be, in order to continue to live productive
and happy lives. To accept the reality of our lives as people living
with hearing loss.
I'm reminded of a comment I received at the end of the 2-day workshop
on hearing loss I just completed teaching last Friday. The gentlemen,
who happens to be a journalist, and who we might consider one of the
"elite" in oral hearing loss because he has taken steps to
help himself deal with his hearing loss by contacting the vocational
rehabilitation center in his city and then attending this workshop as
suggested by his voc rehab counselor, is quoted as making the following
statement "I felt as though, in two days, I learned an incredible
amount about a world I lived in for 30 years, a world of which I was
I'm in agreement with the woman who mentioned the one stop shopping.
I work with ENT doctors, and audiologists who saw the need to recognize
the emotional aspect of hearing loss as well. Therefore, we are able to
provide for all of our patients needs in one spot.
Cathy Kooser, MSW
Licensed Social Worker
Hillcrest Hearing Aids
Living with Hearing Loss Office
476 Windsor Park Dr.
Centerville, OH 45459
Voice (937) 291-8842
Fax (937) 291-8846
Editor: It looks like we're finally seeing significant movement on
the issue of insurance coverage for hearing aids. A couple of states had
such legislation take effect on October 1, and other states are
considering similar legislation. But the real challenge is to get
Medicare to provide hearing aid benefits, both because so many seniors
need hearing aids, and because private insurers so often follow
Medicare's lead in determining benefits. Note that this is just a
proposed bill right now, but it's an indication that the tide is
turning. Here are excerpts from the press release.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) commends
Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) for introduction of H.R. 2934, the
Medicare Aural Rehabilitation and Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2001. H.R.
2934 would provide Medicare coverage for hearing aids and aural
rehabilitation services by audiologists and physicians for seniors with
"Congressman Foley has demonstrated vital leadership by
addressing this important issue," said John Bernthal, Ph.D.,
CCC-SLP/A, and President of ASHA. "Not since the efforts of Claude
Pepper has there been a serious discussion on the need for Medicare to
cover necessary services for hearing loss. With over 28 million
Americans who are currently deaf or hard of hearing and the impending
influx of baby boomers who will be eligible for the Medicare program by
the end of this decade, our nation must begin to work through equitable
coverage policies for hearing aids and aural rehabilitation services in
a concerted manner by both public and private insurance payers."
According to the National Institutes of Health, age-related hearing
loss affects 30 to 35 percent of the population between the ages of 65
and 75, and 40 percent of the population over the age of 75.
Currently, Medicare is specifically prohibited from paying for
hearing aids by federal law. H.R. 2934 would repeal this prohibition and
add hearing aids to the list of covered durable medical equipment. H.R.
2934 would provide new hearing aids every three years as needed by
H.R. 2934 also would provide Medicare coverage for aural
rehabilitation services so that Medicare beneficiaries can receive
needed ongoing care to optimize their hearing with the use of a hearing
aid. Covered services under the bill include: a comprehensive audiologic
assessment to determine the appropriateness of a hearing aid for the
individual; fitting and adjustments to the hearing aids; instruction on
the use of the hearing aids; and aural rehabilitation including
counseling on hearing loss, speech reading and auditory training.
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing
association for more than 103,000 audiologists, speech-language
pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists.