HLAA takes important steps to help people with hearing loss
It might seem unlikely that you can use your feet to benefit someone else’s ears, but in the case of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and its signature Walk4Hearing events, that’s exactly what thousands of people across the country have been doing since 1979.
With national headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, the Hearing Loss Association of America was founded in 1979 to improve communication opportunities for individuals with hearing loss.
One way the HLAA promotes awareness for hearing loss is through their signature fundraiser, Walk4Hearing. Each year in the spring and fall, thousands walk in their communities to “increase public awareness about hearing loss, help eradicate the stigma associated with it and raise funds for programs and services.” More than 22 cities across the USA have hosted or will host an event in 2016. With slightly less than six months left in the fundraising year, HLAA is almost halfway to their goal of raising $1.4 million.
Since the first walk in 2006, more than 70,000 walkers have raised more than $10 million. Funds are shared between the national organization and chapters in local host cities. Local programs and services funded by Walk4Hearing proceeds include college scholarships for students with hearing loss, funding for hearing aids and devices for those who cannot afford them, installation of hearing assistive technology in community rooms and public libraries, captioning of live theater productions and seminars on coping with hearing loss for families.
Fall 2016 events and sponsors:
- Minneapolis, Minnesota – September 24
- Chicago, Illinois – September 25
- New York City, New York – September 25
- Houston, Texas – October 8
- Rochester, New York – October 2
- St. Louis, Missouri – October 8
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – October 9
- West Windsor, New Jersey – October 16
- Cary, North Carolina – October 16
- San Diego, California – October 16
- Washington, DC – October 22
- Brighton, Massachusetts – October 30
- Jacksonville, Florida – November 12
- Mesa, Arizona – November 12
These 2016 corporate sponsors help maximize fundraising efforts:
- CapTel Captioned Telephones provide word-for-word captioning of telephone conversations.
- Med-El, a hearing implant technology company, manufactures products including the SYNCHRONY Cochlear Implant System and VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE, the first FDA-approved implantable middle-ear prosthesis.
- ClearCaptions is certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide caption telephones to people with hearing loss.
- Advanced Bionics, founded in 1993, develops cochlear implant systems for individuals in more than 50 countries.
- Cochlear Americas manufactures implantable hearing systems for cochlear, bone conduction and acoustic implants for patients in more than 100 countries.
- Hamilton CapTel provides telephone captioning service nationwide to people with hearing loss at no cost.
- Hi HealthInnovations, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, uses volume discounting to purchase hearing aids, then passes the savings directly to consumers.
- IntriCon designs, develops and manufactures miniature and micro-miniature body-worn medical and electronic products for medical, hearing health and professional audio communications.
- Regal Entertainment Group owns more than 500 theaters in 42 states.
The HLAA had humble beginnings in the home of Howard E. “Rocky” Stone, who founded Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) in 1979. Stone developed bilateral hearing loss in World War II at the age of 19 as the result of a nearby explosion. He founded SHHH because there were no organizations which supported others like him. Until 1984, funding for the SHHH came from family and friends and an annual membership cost of $7. Local chapters began forming in 1980, and the first national convention was held in Chicago in 1984.
In 1988, SHHH helped draft wording for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was eventually signed into law in 1990. From 1995-2002, SHHH was involved with:
- advocacy for cell phone compatibility and newborn hearing screenings.
- collaborating with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and the US Department of Education on proposed rules for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- supporting the introduction of The Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bill.
- advocacy of Medicare and Medicaid coverage for cochlear implants.
During that time, the organization also solidified their mission “to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss by providing information, education, support and advocacy.” In 2006, the organization became HLAA and the Walk4Hearing fundraiser debuted.
On the national level, funds raised through the Walk4Hearing help publish Hearing Loss Magazine and maintain a website, which provides hearing loss resources to an online community. You can access educational webinars and product/service showcase webinars at no cost. Information for parents, veterans and young adults, as well as HLAA staff blogs and the latest news on hearing loss are also maintained on the site.
Today there are HLAA organizations or chapters in 37 states. State organizations work on legislation, policies, programs and communication access issues specific to their state. Local chapters offer regularly-scheduled meetings and programs to provide emotional support, camaraderie and tips and techniques for living with hearing loss.
Cool fall weather brings the perfect opportunity to join a Walk4Hearing in a city near you! Whether you choose to walk solo, make a day of it with a group of friends or gather a group of co-workers who want to make a difference for people with hearing loss, check out HLAA's website. It's easy to register for a walk via their registration page. Join more than 70,000 walkers and help spread the word about hearing loss and make a difference. And, if you're not quite ready to join the Walk4Hearing but need to take your first step towards better hearing, make an appointment with any of our consumer-reviewed hearing healthcare providers today.