"Today, Congress is scheduled to hold a hearing that will cover the
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 (H.R. 1652), a bill making its way
through the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide public access to
over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids.
As drafted, the measure is meant for persons with 'perceived mild
to moderate hearing loss.' However, the only aids that should be made available
over-the-counter should be those that are useful to persons with mild hearing
To do otherwise would put the public at risk. Greater degrees of
hearing loss are serious medical conditions with broader health implications.
As such, they demand individualized treatment and counseling by an audiologist.
Yet, under H.R. 1652, people who experience a hearing loss other than mild
could take the misguided step of trying to seek relief via OTC solutions. Some
could unwittingly damage their hearing further by over-amplifying; others could
do the opposite—under-amplify and grow frustrated by the failure to experience
relief, resulting in the conclusion that their situation is hopeless and give
up seeking additional professional help.
If H.R. 1652 becomes law as it is drafted, the public's hearing
health will have been significantly compromised. No data exists that supports
making OTC hearing aids widely accessible. A much safer, more responsible path
for lawmakers would be to restrict the gain and output of OTC hearing aids,
thus making them useful only for persons with mild hearing loss. It would also
be in the public's best interest if Congress required the Food and Drug
Administration to track the safety and user satisfaction issues that arise.
That way they could better assess the implications of a do-it-yourself model
for hearing health care."
For a comprehensive analysis of H.R.1652, see http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/ASHA-Statement-OTC-Hearing-Aids.pdf [PDF].
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national
professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 191,500 members and
affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech,
language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology
support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and
assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic
treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess,
and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. www.asha.org