By EDWARD OGIBA
Three local chapters of the Hearing Loss Association
of America will offer consumers the opportunity to try and
compare hearing aids in a sales-free, pressure-free event.
A Healthy Hearing Expo will be held on Feb. 3 at the First Presbyterian
Church of Brandon. It’s intended to help those with hearing loss overcome a barrier that is causing them to reject treatment they need.
In recent years, research has consistently pointed to the high cost of hearing aids as the main reason for not seeking help. Devices can cost up to $5,000 or more per piece and are not covered by most health insurance plans. But the hosts of this expo – HLAA Tampa, Sun City Center and Gulf Coast- say it is not expense, per se, that is the issue.
Consumers shopping for hearing aids must purchase the device first without being able to try them and see how well they work. To solve this unmet need, the Healthy Hearing Expo will offer consumers the unique opportunity to try to compare, without purchase or obligation, the latest hearing aid technology.
This event, the second of its kind in the country, was preceded last March by an event sponsored by the HLAA Sarasota/Manatee chapter. Chapter leaders convinced leading hearing aid manufacturers to allow consumers to try to compare their devices at their public health fair. There are 500,000 people with
hearing loss in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties and, according
to Johns Hopkins Medical Research, 86% of them do not get the treatment
that can help them hear better and improve their quality of life.
During the Healthy Hearing Expo, visitors will be able to experience the performance of hearing aids from several manufacturers after undergoing a hearing screening and consulting with an audiologist, who can guide them on which models are best suited for their needs. In addition, some 40 exhibitors will be on hand to allow visitors to try many of the wireless accessories, assistive listening devices and other access devices that complement hearing aids.
HLAA Gulf Coast President Debbe Hagner said, “The expo is all about educating and mentoring people, so it will be a sales-free, pressure-free event.”