RESTON, VIRGINIA — The American Academy of Audiology (AAA) announced late this evening that it has decided, “in an abundance of caution” to officially cancel the planned AAA 2020 conference, which had been set to take place in New Orleans, Louisiana from April 1-4.
The conference is the latest in a string of high profile events and conferences across the US and the globe that have decided to cancel as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Because many clinical audiologists come into regular contact with older adults, who are also the most vulnerable to the virus, AAA must be especially cognizant of spreading the condition to their patients. I trust AAA made the right decision based on the best available information.”
–Brian Taylor, AuD, HHTM Editor-at-Large
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially labeled the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic–with over 100,000 confirmed cases in over 100 different countries.
Hearing Industry Reacts to Announcement
Supply chain disruptions, event cancellations, and increased travel restrictions in the US and Europe as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, are continuing to pose significant challenges to the industry. The AAA conference is the second hearing industry event cancelled this week, after the CI2020 conference was cancelled on Monday.
“The Hearing Industry Association (HIA) supports and respects the difficult decision made by the AAA board this evening,” said HIA Chairman, and Starkey President, Brandon Sawalich in a statement to HHTM. “We are all in the hearing healthcare industry and it’s about the patient we serve. Industry leadership will continue to act in a responsible manner for our patients, our employees and will support the CDC guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
In request for further comment on how his company is navigating the current environment, Sawalich offered the following response:
“At Starkey our approach always begins with calm leadership and care. In the current environment, it’s important for all of us to be educated about COVID-19. We will continue to monitor and adapt to the changing environment as necessary. Our first priority remains the well-being of our employees, our customers and their patients. We have been proactive in ensuring clean work environments and following the CDC’s common sense approach to travel regulations. Our largest focus will continue to be on providing a great product, excellent service.”
AAA Issues Official Statement to Members
In an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our attendees and the patients they serve (who may be part of at-risk populations), the Academy has made the difficult decision to cancel the AAA 2020 + HearTECH Expo (and all related activities and ancillary meetings) due to concerns about COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This unanimous decision was made by the Academy’s Board of Directors this evening, Wednesday, March 11.
The Academy leadership appreciates the countless hours the field of audiology has devoted to planning for this conference, the largest meeting dedicated specifically to audiology. We recognize the commitment of organizers, presenters, sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, and staff to the success of the conference and acknowledge the disappointment we all share in not being able to continue with the meeting as planned for later this month. However, the need to cancel became apparent in light of the developments over the last few days, including elevated warnings from the CDC and WHO, growing travel restrictions worldwide, and increasing concerns expressed by attendees.
We ask for your patience as we work through policies and procedures with respect to registration and determine next steps. With a conference of this size, we have many details to address and will need some time to identify answers for you. We hope that this preliminary announcement can help you to plan accordingly and to adjust your own travel arrangements.
Your hotel reservation will be cancelled by the Academy and you will receive a confirmation of this cancellation from your hotel within 7-10 business days.
Full registration refunds will be offered. For those who may have already cancelled, the $75 cancellation fee will be refunded. Your refund will be processed within 30-60 days.
We will reach out with as much information as possible in the days ahead. Our priority now is communicating that the 2020 conference is cancelled. Thank you for your ongoing support of both the Academy and the profession of audiology.
Catherine Palmer, PhD
American Academy of Audiology