Dear HLAA Friends and Supporters,
John Gardner said, "History never looks like history when you're living through it."
Gardner, famous for his pithy sayings, was founder of Common Cause and a colleague to our Founder Rocky Stone in the formative days of HLAA. He told Rocky there was definitely a need for this organization and there were people to support it.
I know exactly what Gardner meant. Since 1988, when I joined HLAA, I have worked alongside staff, members at the grassroots, and the HLAA Board of Trustees to be sure that people with hearing loss have communication access, aren't discriminated against in the workplace, have the same opportunities to get an education, and, simply, to enjoy life in spite of not hearing so well.
What seemed to me then -- doing the work of the day -- was actually history in the making.
Some of you might remember life before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), captioning on TV and the internet, and hearing aid-compatible cell phones. While others of you can't imagine life without these essentials, HLAA has been there all along the way working for you at the national level. You've funded programs to educate, advocate and create awareness. You've ensured that we are sitting at every table where the topic of hearing loss is on the agenda. And, even when hearing loss is not on the agenda, HLAA is there to bring up the topic of people who don’t hear well and want to use technology.
This organization, with your gifts of time and money, have helped to make history. You can take pride in being part of that legacy.
What History are We Making Now?
In a way, our work has begun anew because of some exciting news. Just recently, your donations have gone partially to fund HLAA's sponsorship of the study on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access. The study was undertaken by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) and the findings were published this past June. HLAA was the only consumer group sponsor.
Other sponsors of the study include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health (which includes both the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders).
Having the NAS tackle hearing health care and publish their findings is the best news today. The NAS is a private, nonprofit institution that provides expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. The NAS has earned a solid reputation as one of the nation's premier sources of independent, expert advice on scientific, engineering and medical issues.
What Are the Recommendations of the NAS and How Will HLAA Play a Role?
The NAS report contained 12 recommendations on affordable and accessible health care for adults which will serve as a blueprint for our work. (You can read the recommendations on the NAS website.) Many of them call for “nonprofit and advocacy organizations” (read HLAA) to get involved to move them forward. We will take the lead in making sure that the recommendations become reality. People are looking to HLAA to be at this important discussion table that will impact the lives of people with hearing loss for years to come.
The NAS underscores the fact that hearing loss is a primary health concern in the United States. HLAA has been saying this for years and has been working under that premise, but now we have a nationally-recognized, expert source stating it with a comprehensive study to back it up. Despite hearing loss having a negative impact on peoples’ lives, many still do not seek or receive care. Some reasons stated in the study are:
- Hearing health care is not affordable; for example, hearing aids are not covered by Medicare
- Services are difficult to access
- Some people have trouble getting past the stigma of wearing hearing aids, while others don't know they need hearing aids because their hearing loss has been gradual
- Hearing loss is often not screened for or discussed in primary health care visits
Although others look to HLAA to take the lead in moving some of the recommendations forward, no one is providing funding for us to forge ahead expeditiously. This is where a donation from you can go directly to the work of HLAA to make sure that people with hearing loss have access to affordable health care as well as unbiased, credible information about choices.
Please consider helping to fund the critical work that we need to do to make these recommendations a reality which, when implemented, will change the face of hearing health care as we know it.
HLAA is a national organization that has made history, and as John Gardner referenced, we have the opportunity to make history again – right now.
While we have a small, national staff, along with the Board of Trustees, and our supporters, we have years of success and the expertise to make the lives of people with hearing loss better. Together, we can all make history again.
Other Work We Do at HLAA
Making affordable and accessible hearing health care is only one of the major tasks we are taking on, but it’s the one I want to focus on in this letter because it is the #1 concern we hear from members. Our other work continues, for example: working with the wireless industry on an FCC-appointed task force to ensure that cell phones are 100 percent hearing aid compatible by 2024; improving captioning quality; working on in-flight access with the Department of Transportation; building the Network of Consumer Hearing Assistive Technology Trainers; and more.
We need both your time and money to continue all of this important work. Please consider a donation today to fund HLAA’s work to move this field forward.
As HLAA celebrates its 37th anniversary this November, you can reflect on our accomplishments and take pride in knowing that you are part of history, yesterday, today and tomorrow. In my 28 years with this organization, this is one of the most exciting times but with daunting, yet achievable, tasks. Along with you, I feel fortunate to be part of making history once again.
I truly wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday as I thank you for all you have done to keep HLAA focused on its mission. I look forward to hearing from you, don't hesitate to call or write.
You can make a tax-deductible donation online today. HLAA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
We also accept matching gifts from your employers. Thank you.