Hearing loss is a chronically under-diagnosed health concern among adults that’s often left untreated. And when people do get help, hearing aids and professional care can be expensive. ASU’s Speech and Hearing Clinic teamed up with the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing to provide hearing aids and care for free to those in need. Michele Michaels is the commission’s program manager.
“The Hearing Healthcare Assistance Project is a collaboration between Arizona State University, the Speech and Hearing Clinic and the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, where I work. And what we’re doing is trying to help low-income adults who have no resources to get access to hearing tests, hearing healthcare, hearing aids and rehabilitation as well,” Michaels said.
Their main focus is helping those within the low-income population and people who are basic medicare.
These services are provided at ASU on the Tempe campus but anyone in the state can apply for the program.
When asked how many people this could apply to, “we actually commissioned a study that the U of A did for us…in 2015. And they found that there were at least 70,000 or so low-income adults in Arizona who need hearing aids and can’t afford them and of those we thought that probably 15-20 thousand would actually avail themselves if they have the opportunity,” Michaels said.
Michaels said they may not hit all 15,000 to 20,000 people but what they believe will come of this is demonstrations that can show other states across the country a model that can allow for hearing aid care for those who need it.
She said that hearing loss is a healthcare issue. They have found when it’s left untreated, there are more falls, people develop dementia earlier than they should.
“With our project, there is no cost at all to the person other than they need to get themselves to the Tempe Campus,” Michaels said.