Our Impact: Advocacy & Community

While we love connecting with people one-on-one and at our HOPE meetings, building a hearing-friendly Washington State also means that we work with leaders in the community, business, and government to make sure the needs of people with hearing loss are heard.

Here are some accomplishments we’re especially proud of.

Hearing Aid Coverage for Private Insurance Plans

Hearing aids will be covered under most private insurance plans in Washington State, including PEBB and SEBB employee plans, starting January 1, 2024.

In 2023, HLAA-WA and other hearing loss advocates—big and small—championed HB 1222 and SB 5338 in the state legislature. Both bills passed, ensuring that children and working-age Washingtonians can access an essential medical device they need to succeed at school, excel at work, and build strong relationships at home and in their communities.

The Telecoil-Bluetooth Consumer Education Act (SB 5210)

Color photo of a man in a suit signing a document at the end of a long table. He's surrounded by other people dressed up and smiling. The State of Washington seal and the American and Washington State flags are behind them.

Led by HLAA-WA, a coalition of seniors and disability advocates helped pass a bill ensuring consumers understand connectivity features on their hearing aids—telecoils and Bluetooth —that will help them hear in more places and situations. Consumers are now informed of the benefits and limitations of these technologies before they buy a hearing aid.

The Seattle Rep: A Looped Venue Indeed!

With help from Let’s Loop Seattle and composer Richard Einhorn, Seattle Rep became one of the most hearing-friendly theaters in the country. Premier audio and hearing loops in all theaters and at the coat check and guest services counters are available for patrons, staff, and volunteers. Today, the Rep is a model for accessibility and inclusion, with high visibility at the heart of the Seattle Center.

color phot of people smiling and dressed up at an event. A sign behind them on the left says hearing loop installed.

The First Hospital Kits in Washington State

Color photo of a montage of cards, a pen, notepad, and small paper signs.

Seeing the need for people with hearing loss to visit hospitals safely and confidently, HLAA-WA created, in partnership with Swedish Hospital, the first hospital kits in Washington State. If you have a hearing loss and you need to go to the hospital, you can print copies of the kit here. Swedish offers these assistive devices, too.

Hearing Aid Coverage for Adults on Medicaid (SB 5179)

How well you hear should not depend on your medical coverage or your income. We led the charge to restore hearing aid coverage for adults on Washington State Medicaid. Dozens of senior and disability advocacy groups joined us in the spirit of collaboration.

Sharp color photo of the Washington State capitol building in Olympia. Blue sky is in the background, and a green tree frames the right hand side.

Captions Now on TV-Washington

Washington State’s public affairs channel, TVW, wasn’t accessible to the Deaf and hearing loss communities. We successfully advocated for captions on TVW programming, including Governor Inslee’s urgent COVID-19 updates.

Community Partnerships Across Washington State

By building partnerships with community and civic groups, we leverage the power of multiple voices raised together to change the lives of people with hearing loss. We serve with the Washington Senior Lobby, the Dementia Action Collaborative, the Governor’s Commission on Disability and Employment, Wash-CAP, the state Speech & Hearing Board, and many other groups.

Color photo of a woman and a man in sunglasses, smiling. A sign in the background says Access for All and shows the symbols for hearing access via telecoil, open captions, sign language, and wheelchair access.