New CDC Report on Disabilities Doesn’t Include Hearing Loss; HLAA Expresses Outrage

BETHESDA, MARYLAND — the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) expressed their outrage last week following the publication of a new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the prevalence of disability in the US.

The study published by the CDC last month, Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type Among Adults, US, 2013, evaluated vision loss, cognition, mobility, self-care and independent living. However, much to the chagrin of HLAA and hearing loss advocates, there is no mention of hearing loss listed among the other disabilities examined in the study.

According to the researchers, the purpose of the study is to “inform public health researchers and program planners to better understand the relationships between disability, demographic factors, and health status to identify and address barriers to more effective interventions.”  In a footnote,  the report makes the following comment without providing a rationale for the decision to omit hearing disability:

“The BRFSS does not include the recommended question on deafness or serious difficulty hearing.”

Nevertheless, the report’s summary of the data suggests that all types of disability were surveyed by heading each data table and figure as “Prevalence of Any Disability and Disability Type.”

In a call to action last week to its members, HLAA points out that:

“Hearing loss is the third most common public health issue after diabetes and heart disease, yet this study fails to make any mention about hearing loss, or even explain why the study failed to examine the prevalence of hearing loss.”

Anna Gilmore Hall
Anna Gilmore Hall

HLAA Contacts CDC, White House

Seeking “swift and meaningful” action to correct the omission of hearing loss in the study, HLAA is addressing the issue directly with both the CDC and the White House.

“People with hearing loss have been denied communication access in hospitals and doctors’ offices, and by public programs such as Medicare which does not currently cover the cost of hearing aids.”

“The release of the report comes on the heels of celebrations surrounding the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and we are stunned they failed to understand the impact of excluding hearing loss as a disability that needs to be addressed.”

-Anna Gilmore Hall, HLAA Executive Director

Spotlight on Hearing Loss

HLAA is hoping their efforts will help ensure hearing loss gets the attention it deserves from a research and public policy standpoint. They are encouraging their members and those who care about hearing loss to express their outrage as well.

Further details regarding the organization’s actions can be found on the HLAA website.