Hearing Awareness: A Favorite Topic of Mine

DISCLAIMER: The following comments belong to me, the Analog Man. Not my employer, family, friends or anyone other than me. So if you comment, regardless if positive or negative please direct them to me. Any questions? Can you hear me?

hearingaids-0712Just the other day, CNN published an article that noted 34 million Americans have a hearing disability. That is something like 12 percent of the population. Take a minute and try to relate that to theAUDIOvisual community in which we work. I will bet you would come up with a significantly higher percentage… especially because our hearing is negatively affected by all the audio exposure we’ve had over the years. In fact, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is on the rise and results from high intensity sound exposure over a period of time. So those of us in A/V who like music and who might have dabbled in rock ‘n roll (or even attended a lot of concerts) — and who didn’t! –- are at greater risk.

Most insurance companies consider hearing aids to be elective, same category as plastic surgery.

Let us create a situation and you tell me if hearing is important, and if hearing aids should be elective just like plastic surgery is an elective procedure: I have a job as (fill in the blank). I went to work the other day and had a meeting with (enter as many people as you want). During the meeting, each person asked me a question, and every time my initial response was “What did you say?’ Two days later, I was called in to the bosses’ office and was reprimanded for not paying close attention during a meeting. Someone had gotten back to him that every time a question had been asked I had to ask that it be repeated. I must not have been paying attention I guess.

So I say to my friends in this tightknit community of audiovisual professionals, what have you done lately to help yourself? To help the person sitting next to you in a meeting that incidentally keeps saying “What?”

So now what?

A few years ago I had a hearing screening at the NAMM show (thank you H.E.A.R. Institute). Afterwards the audiologist asked me in a very clear and loud voice “Do you look both ways before crossing the street?” That statement I will never forget, which then took me on a quest for a solution. In short order I found that, regardless of the fact that I had excellent healthcare coverage from my employer, hearing aids were not covered and are rarely covered by anyone!  Anywhere! OK, I earn a decent living, and $8,000 later I had a set of nice new hearing aids. Then three years later, and another $8,000, I had my second set.

Cool, eh?

That was about 18 months ago and I figure I am good for another 18 months, maybe 24, before I go back for a new generation. Make no mistake, these little suckers are about the best there is — fully programmable with awesome DSP chips in there. They have multiple channels for different environments, automatic this and that and a remote control, just in case. I also go back to my audiologist every couple of months to retune and adjust the various DSP settings.

Guess what I now do when I walk in to those meetings? I find a seat towards the middle of the room and if it is a noisy meeting, I speak up and say “Excuse me, but I have a hearing disability, please quiet down so I can hear the question being asked.” Do not forget that is with $8,000 stuck in my ears. Without those hearing aids, I would not be able to work.

How can ANBODY say that hearing aids are elective?