- Published on 01 December 2015
In an open letter, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has defended the role of audiologists in providing balanced individualized care to people with hearing loss.
The letter comes in response to the recommendations issued by the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) concerning innovation in hearing aids, in which the Council recommended that the previous restrictive draft guidance on personal sound amplifiers (PSAs) be scrapped.
ASHA commended the Council for its interest in hearing health and rehabilitation but was concerned that the focus of the recommendations diverted attention away from overall hearing health care provided by specialists. The recommendations focused primarily on opening up the market for basic hearing aids intended for sale over-the-counter and for personal sound amplifiers.
The association emphasizes in its letter that hearing impairment is a complex chronic condition affecting all areas of life for those concerned and that when it is untreated or not adequately treated, it is associated with a broad range of other comorbidities, including social isolation, depression, and an increased risk of falls that are known to be serious, particularly in elderly subjects.
“By focusing solely on a device, the Council has made an error in assuming that hearing is analogous to vision and has inadvertently dismissed the importance of an individualized treatment plan developed by an audiologist as best practices in hearing health care,” ASHA commented. The organization calls for a more comprehensive assessment of patient access to all hearing health care services, rather than focusing only on devices and their cost.