Hearing Loss Association of America Washington State

Our Mission
To open the world of communication to people with hearing loss by providing information, education, support, and advocacy.

Our Vision
All aspects of life will be accessible to people with hearing loss.

We’re dedicated to helping people with hearing loss live their best lives. We provide support and hearing technology education. And we remove barriers, encourage communication access, and advocate for a world that allows everyone to participate equally, regardless of their ability to hear.

Color photo of two middle-aged women, one with her arm around the other.

Your HLAA membership automatically includes membership to HLAA-Washington.

We’d love it if you joined us.


News & Events

Next virtual HOPE meeting: April 7, 2021
Graphic: Board with nails holding the letters H, O, P, and E. Text reads Hearing Other People's Experiences, Hearing Loss Association of America Washington State
Hearing Other People’s Experiences (HOPE) is a support group that creates a safe place for people to ask questions, share challenges, and help one another. Our next HLAA-Washington HOPE group meeting is April 7, 2021, 4:00 – 5:15 pm, online via Zoom. Everyone is welcome. Captioned, of course. Free. Register here.

Washington State Senate Bill Would
Require Captions on TVs in Public
Graphic with phot of old, 70s-style TV and the closed caption symbol on the bottom right. Text reads Support Captions-On Televisions in Public, Washington State S B Five Oh Two Seven
UPDATE March 9, 2021 – Please call or email Rep. Drew Hansen, the chair of the Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee, to urge a hearing on the billRep. Hansen (D-23) can be reached at 360-786-7842 or drew.hansen@leg.wa.gov.
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February 24, 2021 – The captions-on bill has passed the Washington Senate and has been referred to the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee. You can call or email your state senators to thank them, and reach out to your representatives in the House to encourage them to vote “yes.”
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Televisions in public places will be required to have captions turned on if Senate Bill 5027 passes in the Washington State legislature this year.
The bill passed out of the Law & Justice committee on January 21, 2021 with a “do pass” recommendation.
This bill has no costs and is bipartisan; it’s similar to a law passed recently by the City of Seattle. Television captions in public places serve as an access/accommodation for people with hearing loss and people who are Deaf, and it also helps people who are learning English, people with mild hearing loss, and children.

Bill to Require Private Insurers to Cover Kids’ Hearing Aids Will Not Move Forward in 2021

Poster with photo on left of dark-skinned little girl with natural hair laughing. On the right, text reads Let Washington Kids Hear, Support the Twenty Twenty One Washington State Children's Hearing Aid Bill. Bottom is a logo reading HLAA, Hearing Loss Association of America Washington State Association.

UPDATE February 24, 2021 – Call to action by March 5, 2021: Email your representatives and ask them to support the budget proviso from Rep. Emily Wicks. This proviso would provide $75,000 for the OIC to perform an accurate cost analysis, which will help lawmakers make an informed vote in 2022.

Remember to stress how hearing aids are important for children’s education, socialization, and overall health, and that hearing aids aren’t affordable for many families. Lawmakers will be “on the floor” the week of March 1, 2021, so this would be a good time to contact your representatives. Read more on our website about this proviso, courtesy of Cynthia Stewart.

February 10, 2021 – Despite enthusiastic support for this bill, it will likely not pass this year. Hopefully, by the 2022 legislative session, an accurate budget estimate will be available, and the bill will have a better chance of passing.

We encourage you to thank Rep. Emily Wicks for introducing the bill and for her continued support. Learn more about the bill and why Rep. Wicks introduced it here.

December 18, 2020 – A bill introduced in the 2021 Washington State Legislature will require private insurers to cover hearing aids for children and adolescents.

When kids can’t hear well, their language development, social skills, and school performance are harmed. Hearing aids make all the difference, but one in five families can’t afford hearing aids for their children, according to the Better Hearing Institute.

Visit our Advocacy page to find out how YOU can help these vulnerable children learn better and thrive.


Current E-News, April 9, 2021

UW CREATE logo with icon of person with prosthetic arm holding a lightbulb and Center for Research and Education on Accessible Technology and Experiences, University of Washington

    • New UW accessible technology program
    • The Captions-On bill on its way to the governor’s desk
    • Our new page on financial resources to help you buy a hearing aid
    • Our next HOPE meeting April 7, 2021
    • Costco’s new telecoil-enabled hearing aids
    • High-tech hearing devices causing confusion, overwhelm
    • Survey on tech accessibility
    • Webinar: Living and Loving with Hearing Loss
    • Turning on on live Zoom captions
    • Hearing-friendly programs online at the Seattle Rep

To read the full April 9, 2021 E-news, click here.

Subscribe to our e-news here. It’s free, and we never sell your information.


Simple System Helps People Hear at Counters and Desks

December 3, 2020 – Glass and plastic barriers–and ever-present face masks–may protect us from COVID19, but they make it harder, if not impossible, to hear one another. Sound is muffled and blocked, and we lose the ability to speech read.

Speech Transfer Systems, also called window intercoms, are a simple, affordable way to help people hear better. Microphones on each side, plus loop technology, isolate the speech we need to hear. People with hearing loss need this technology to communicate and to receive services, products, and care.

These systems provide so many benefits: ADA-mandated communication access, happy customers, confident employees, and better and faster client service and care.

Color photo of a Middle-aged man in glasses looking at the camera, raising one hand. A glass partition with the blue ear hearing accessibly logo in the corner is to the left.

Speech Transfer Systems, or window intercoms, can help people with hearing loss communicate better. Brown Audio Service shows you how.

Check out Brown Audio Service’s description of this simple technology, and watch their before-and-after demonstration video.


Captions Are Immediately Needed for Video and Meeting Platforms

For people with hearing loss to work from home, watch videos, and participate in online events and meetings, captions aren’t optional–they’re required. Yet captions aren’t automatic on most virtual platforms–most require an add-on program that’s complicated and confusing.

Color photo of a woman working on a laptop, red notebook and pen to her left.

During the COVID-19 era, people with hearing loss are even more at risk of isolation and loneliness. Many are working from home or trying to reach out to friends and family via platforms like Zoom. Zoom captions are an optional add-in, but they cost $200 and require some technical expertise to install. All of which places an unrealistic and unfair burden on people with hearing loss, says HLAA Board Member and hearing loss advocate Shari Eberts.

The Hearing Loss Association of America supports free access to captioning for people with hearing loss to support social engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read HLAA’s position paper here.

And of course, HLAA-WA and Let’s Loop Seattle support technologies, including loops and captions, to keep people connected during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

You can help!Color photo of a woman's hand holding a blank mobile phone. A yellow post-it stuck to the phone reads sign here, with an arrow pointing to the phone.

If you’d like to sign the petition to get free captions on virtual platforms, click here.

If you need help finding and turning on captions, visit Theater Development Fund’s guide, “How to Turn on Captions for Online Performances.”


 

Hearing Aid Coverage in Washington State

Color photo of a brown gavel.

Will Washington State insurers soon be required to cover hearing aids under the ACA guidelines?

Maybe. A recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Schmitt v. Kaiser) could result in hearing aids be mandated as “essential health benefits.” The case has been sent back to trial court to decide if excluding hearing aid coverage predominately impacts people with disabilities, according to attorney and hearing loss advocate John Waldo, writing with Trevor Finneman in the HLAA-California September 2020 newsletter.

Read Waldo and Finneman’s update, which includes analysis of how a 1985 Supreme Court decision may play a role in the next ruling.


Coronavirus and Hearing Loss

20% of the population has hearing loss, many of them older adults who may be susceptible to COVID-19 and may also be less adaptable to the changes that are coming quickly. Here are some tools to help: Coronavirus and Hearing Loss.


Newest Edition of Sound Waves

Sound Waves is our award-winning quarterly printed newsletter, currently on hiatus. The most recent issue is below. Please click here for Sound Wave archives.

Sound Waves Fall 2019


City of Seattle Enacts TV Caption Ordinance

On April 15, the City of Seattle enacted an ordinance that, when it takes effect, will require televisions in places of public accommodation have captions turned on.  This will benefit those with hearing loss as well as people with other reasons to need visual support for what is being said.  Read the ordinance here.


Buying Hearing Aids in Washington
(What to expect)

Our new and updated flyer Buying Hearing Aids in Washington (What to expect) is now published.