FDA will tell consumers everything they need to know about hearing aids

David Kirkwood
May 16, 2012

SILVER SPRING, MD–The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) will offer a free webinar next week to tell consumers what they need to know about hearing loss and hearing aids.

The 30-minute webinar will take place Wednesday, May 23, at 2 pm Eastern time. The featured speaker will be Shu-Chen Peng, PhD, an audiologist in CDRH’s Office of Device Evaluation. Peng will present basic information to consumers about hearing loss, hearing aids and the different types and styles available, and how to get the most from your hearing aids. After the presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

To join in the webinar, the agency advises:

  1. Click the URL https://collaboration.fda.gov/cdrhhearingaidsmay2012/ (or copy and paste it into your internet browser).
  2. Click the “Enter as a Guest” button, fill in your name, and then click “Enter Room.”

Those tuning in will need computer speakers to listen to the webinar. Closed captioning will be available. There will be only a limited number of spots available for the webinar, which is being held in observance of May as Better Hearing and Speech Month.



Several other organizations are also sponsoring programs for Better Hearing Month, including the Better Hearing Institute, whose focus on the importance of hearing in the workplace was reported on this blog previously.

In addition, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), with support from the United Health Foundation,   is educating older adults about the signs of hearing loss, the importance of getting screened, and providing answers to frequently asked questions and reasons to get help.

Jim Firman, resident and CEO of NCOA, said, “One out of every four older Americans has undetected or untreated hearing loss, and NCOA’s research has shown that most older adults with hearing loss do not realize how much the quality of their lives has been affected.” He added, “As someone with significant hearing loss, I can personally attest to how the right hearing aids have dramatically improved my ability to work and play, my relationships with family and friends, and my self-esteem. We encourage all older adults and their families to take a hearing test and find out what they’ve been missing.”

A 1999 NCOA survey on hearing loss and older adults found that when people began to use hearing aids,  many saw improvements in their lives, including their family relationships (66%), mental health (36%), sense of independence (34%), and social life (34%).



The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) launched a public service announcement (PSA) campaign this week entitled “Speak Up About Hearing Loss.” It’s designed to encourage older Americans to seek treatment for hearing loss.

The campaign is distributing English and Spanish versions of video and audio PSAs to major broadcast outlets nationwide to end the silence that surrounds hearing loss among older Americans, judging from a recent poll of AARP members by AARP and ASHA.

More than half the poll respondents reported having untreated hearing problems. Findings also indicated that hearing problems weren’t being discussed in many cases, either by those suffering them or by the people closest to them, even though untreated hearing loss significantly fosters other problems such as social isolation and depression.

ASHA’s campaign focuses on the poll’s finding that nearly 70% of respondents said they would seek treatment for hearing problems if they were asked to do so by loved ones.

  1. Anything that directs consumers to hearing health is certainly welcome, I’m naturally a teeny bit suspicious if anyone is “sponsoring” this webinar.
    I also believe that most folks in the age range who need hearing help the most are probably NOT going to tune into a webinar. I’m moderately tech savvy and avoid those whenever possible:)

  2. I find it highly ironic that the FDA is telling consumers what they need to know, when in fact it is well documented that they themselves are a major impediment to tens of thousands of people who have cochlear implants (CI’s), yet are blocked by the FDA from benefiting from software upgrades with their condescending “we know better than you” attitude, treating users as potted plants, even after TÜV approval for the CE marque.

    In one of the most egregious examples where US residents needlessly suffered for over two years, one need only look at what happened to Advanced Bionics’ ClearVoice technology: After rave reviews by people who tested this noise reduction software in clinical trials, it was approved for everywhere in the world that recognizes the CE marque in March 2010. However, it took another two years for the FDA to finally approve it, much to the frustraton of many dozens of my friends desperate to get their hands on it, with some going offshore to get it loaded onto their speech processors.

    One has to realize that for this optional software upgrade, the benefits to the user are apparent in a matter of seconds, especially for the post-lingually deafened. Furthermore, AB’s speech processors have three program slots, so if the user wants to switch it off, all s/he needs to do is push a button.

    The FDA’s CDRH Office of Device Evaluation needs to be held to account for their foot-dragging, needlessly negatively impacting tens of thousands of users.

    And, lest you think I am carrying water for Advanced Bionics, check out these three articles where The Hearing Blog savaged them over their November 2010 recall here, here, and especially here in the comments.

    Dan Schwartz,
    Editor, The Hearing Blog

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