Making hearing aids more accessible and affordable in community

Posted at 11:25 PM, Oct 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-16 23:25:50-04

Brian McBride was born with hearing loss.   

“I had trouble hearing. My mom would call my name when I was in kindergarten like I couldn’t hear the teacher, and because of that I had speech problems,” says McBride.

But life completely changed at the age of five when he came to the Hearing and Speech Agency of Baltimore, for his first hearing aid.

When asked what it was like to hear clearly for the first time he responded, “It was wonderful.”

Many kids and adults are in need of hearing aids, but cost can be a huge financial burden for a family.

Erin Stauder, the Executive Director of HASA says, “Hearing aids are often the third most expensive thing that an individual buys in a lifetime besides a house and a car.”

That’s why new legislation passed in August could change everything.

It’s called the “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act.” The goal is to make hearing aids more affordable and accessible by selling them over the counter, possibly, at your local pharmacy.

“We believe that large pharmacy chains as well as smaller community based pharmacies are going to be able to sell these devices and we're hopeful that even groups like the Hearing and Speech Agency can support the community by offering those devices in house as well,” says Stauder.

Stauder says, while this is a huge win for our community, it will still take time before over-the-counter hearing aids are available.

“The FDA has about three years to give us these guidelines and groups like the Hearing and Speech Agency are fortunately well positioned to be a part of that conversation,” says Stauder.

Stauder stresses that this isn’t exactly like walking into the pharmacy and picking up reading glasses.

She says the implications on hearing health are very different and advises seeing an audiologist first, if you have questions about your hearing.