At the close of 2016, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016.” According to a release from Warren’s office, a mere 14% of the approximately 30 million people in the United States suffering from age-related hearing loss currently use assistive technology. As per the release, the purpose of the recently introduced bill is to increase the use of assistive hearing technology by making it easier and less expensive to obtain. Further to this end, the FDA announced in December 2016 that – effective immediately – it does not intend to enforce the requirement for adults to obtain a medical evaluation before obtaining most hearing aids. Citing the high retail price of hearing aids as an additional reason for their low uptake, the FDA suggests that lower cost products are needed which will create more consumer choice and foster greater competition and innovation among manufacturers.
The proposed legislation and recent announcements from the FDA open the door for audiologists to reach a much wider audience, and complement Alango Technologies’ quest to deliver multi-functional, high-performance, low-cost alternatives to traditional hearing aids. We can work together to improve the quality of life for millions of people who have dismissed hearing aids as a solution to their hearing impairment, whether due to high cost, poor accessibility, stigma, or dissatisfaction with the results.