HLAA-WA E-News February 21, 2023

Welcome to our e-news!

Washington State Hearing Loss News

Legislative Update: Closer to Hearing Aid Private Insurance Coverage

House Bill 1222 is currently in the House Rules Committee waiting to be nominated for a floor vote. This bill would require private insurance to cover hearing aids and some related services.

  • Help by emailing these members of the House Rules Committee and ask them to bring HB 122 to the floor–and then vote YES : laurie.jinkins@leg.wa.gov, steve.bergquist@leg.wa.gov, lauren.davis@leg.wa.gov, joe.fitzgibbon@leg.wa.gov, mia.gregerson@leg.wa.gov, mari.leavitt@leg.wa.gov, debra.lekanoff@leg.wa.gov, melanie.morgan@leg.wa.gov, lillian.ortiz-self@leg.wa.gov, tina.orwall@leg.wa.gov, gerry.pollet@leg.wa.gov, alex.ramel@leg.wa.gov, tarra.simmons@leg.wa.gov, larry.springer@leg.wa.gov, and monica.stonier@leg.wa.gov.

Senate Bill 5338 is currently in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee waiting for a public hearing. This bill aims to add hearing aids under Washington State’s Essential Benefits. 

  • Stay tuned for how you can help move this bill forward sometime after March 8, when House bills are more likely to be heard in the Senate.

Read more about this hearing loss advocacy movement, and the heroes–big and small–who are leading it, on our blog.

Thank you for your support of hearing-friendly legislation! YOU are making the difference in keeping these bills moving.

Local Advocates from HLAA-Whatcom County Featured in Presentation

Local hearing loss advocates Lou Touchette and Mike Sweeney will present to the HLAA-West Valley Chapter on March 14, 2023, at noon Pacific time. Find out more, including how to join via Zoom, on our blog.

color photo of two men with glasses holding tools by a doorway. the universal ear symbol is a sign by the doorjamb. text reads Mike Sweeney, Lou Touchette, march 14, 2023, noon pacific, HLAA-WA West Valley Phoenix

Next HOPE Meeting: Next Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 4 pm Pacific

What can you do if someone has a hearing loss, but they’re reluctant to get tested? How do you hear better in a senior living situation?

Our Hearing Other People’s Experiences (HOPE) meetings are a safe, welcoming space where you can ask questions from your peers about anything and everything hearing loss and hearing tech.

Facilitated by a caring, compassionate HOPE Crew, these monthly virtual meetings are free, live-captioned, and open to everyone with hearing loss and to their friends and family. You’re welcome to relax, listen, and simply spend time with people who understand what it’s like to live with hearing loss.

Hearing-Friendly History Events Coming Up at MOHAI

At Seattle’s terrific Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), don’t miss these hearing-friendly, in-person events.

Upcoming programs with both CART captioning and ASL interpretation:  

History Café: Creating a Hopeful Future for The Puget Sound on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 6:30pm

CART captioning will also be available at the following programs:

Find more hearing-friendly things to do on our Events page. Remember to check back regularly, as we update that webpage at least monthly.

Woman with glasses standing and holding microphone. She is speaking to a group of people.

In Honor of Black History Month, We Salute Folks Helping People with Hearing Loss

Whether they’re working in schools, nonprofits, sports, advocacy groups, or other professions, many Black and Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing/DeafBlind folks have made Washington State a better place for all of us.

Our Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing staff highlight some of these folks here, including Napal Tesfai of the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services, Bart Williams at Nexus Inland Northwest HSDC, and our current ODHH Division Director Earnest Covington III.

Graphic reads Earnest Covington the third, Washington Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, division Director. On the right, a color photo of smiling man in suit and tie.

National Hearing Loss News

color photo of a hotel at sunset. river in the background.

HLAA Convention Scholarship Applications Are Due March 15. Meet Us in New Orleans!

New Orleans is the place. Late June is the time. A fun, educational HLAA convention is the thing.

First-time attendees can apply for a scholarship to help defray the cost of attending. Read more about convention scholarships, then click here to apply.

You can register for the convention, which is June 29 – July 1, 2023, here.

Senator John Fetterman Raises Awareness of Captions as a Needed Workplace Accommodation

Newly elected U.S. senator John Fetterman (D-PA) is using captions as an accommodation for an auditory processing disorder.

Fetterman is helping not only himself, but also others. By removing the stigma that surrounds communication access in the workplace, more people who need ADA-mandated communication access will feel empowered to ask for what they need.

We hope the technology he’s using–which includes an iPad with a speech-to-text app and a live caption display at his desk–becomes available for anyone else who needs it.

Thank you, Senator Fetterman, for helping the millions of people with hearing loss by courageously telling your story and asking for what you need to do your job.

color photo of a person sitting in a chair holding an iPad. all that's visible are their hands, lap, and legs.

Color photo of the side of an ear with long black hair behind it

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: Right for You, or Downright Frustrating?

Walgreens offers an $800 hearing aid. Might it work for you…or not? Watch this story from WGN-TV in Chicago and learn why one patient chose a prescription hearing aid instead.

You can also check out hearing loss advocate Stephen O. Frazier’s story about his shopping trip to look for OTC hearing aids. (Hint: Frazier’s adventure didn’t turn out well.)

Have you found an OTC hearing aid that works for you? Let us know in comments below, or email us: webmaster@hearingloss-wa.org.

Hearing Loops Are the Leading Assistive Listening Option: Interviews with Juliette Sterkens, AuD

Have you tried a hearing loop? Or are you looking for places to go that have easy-to-use, discreet ways to hear better? Juliette Sterkens has a few wise words for you.

Sterkens, HLAA’s Get in the Hearing Loop spokeswoman, explains in an AccessiBe blog post why hearing loops are a terrific hearing access choice for venues of all types. You can watch an AccessiBe interview with her, too. She also discusses hearing loops in houses of worship in this article for the Christian Reformed Church.

Color photo of woman with gray hair. She is smiling. In the background is a sign reading Beecher's Handmade Cheese.

color photo filmed from behind.  a woman with brown hair is holding an ipad. On the ipad are an image of a heart and the word telehealth.

Making Telehealth Accessible to People with Hearing Loss

Telehealth visits are often not accessible to people with hearing loss, even though miscommunication with a healthcare provider can be not only awkward, but also harmful.

At HLAA, Director of Advocacy Lise Hamlin understands the struggle. Along with HLAA’s Communication Access in Health Care (CAHC) program, she’s working on systemic changes to get equal access for people with hearing loss. Recently, they’ve been talking about voice-to-text technology with Google’s accessibility team and meeting with the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. Help is on the way!

To follow this group’s terrific work, subscribe to their email list.

Updated Requirements Available for Hiring People with Hearing Loss

Employers, take note: Updated requirements for hiring and accommodating people with hearing loss are now in effect, thanks to an update from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The update includes the questions that employers can and can’t ask, technologies that qualify as reasonable accommodations, and more.

Thank you to Respectability.org for the heads-up on this. You can read the guidelines on the EEOC’s website.

texy reades E E O C Equal employment opportunity commission. a gavel is off to one side.

color photo of a large group of people who are looking at the camera and raising their arms to wave.


Member benefits include product discounts, reduced convention registration fees, help with the latest hearing loss tech, and HLAA’s award-winning quarterly magazine, Hearing Life.  Your HLAA membership automatically includes HLAA-Washington. Dues start at $45 a year.

HLAA-WA does not endorse any technology, nor does exclusion suggest disapproval. We support the full spectrum of hearing technologies for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *