AAA: How YOU Doin’?

Michael Metz, PhD
Michael Metz, PhD



A group of us got together for dinner a while back. There were five old audiologists sitting in a nice restaurant, having a cocktail (or two) and dinner, while talking about von Bekesy patterns and the past.  I don’t recall exactly what I ate that evening, but I certainly remember the conversations.  At one lull, a past president of one professional organization banged a fist on the table and suggested that audiologists needed to talk seriously about the AAA’s successes, failures, and directions.

All of us agreed: somewhere through the years, things have changed with the Audiology Academy.  I don’t think it was any one thing in particular but rather a combination of factors.  Maybe the change was partially fuelled by a shift in philosophy, or the occasional side-road detour, or perhaps rapid growth of members and money, or other unknowns that resulted in AAA being in the position that we find it today.  No matter the causes, all five of us agreed that AAA started out as really different than it is now. (Different being neither good nor bad—just not the same.)

As the evening progressed, discussions ensued, problems were defined and solutions were proposed.  I think we ended up with lots of suggestions. First of all, we agreed that….

Wait a minute. It’s not about us anymore. Others have a much larger stake in AAA. And, with “AudiologyNow!” coming up, some of you may need a topic to discuss between sessions and visits to the exhibit floor or the oasis.  Here’s something to think about:

What do YOU want, and/or what do YOU expect of a Professional Organization?  (The key words here may be “You” and “Professional”.)

If recalled correctly, many audiologists have asked the Academy in the past for such things as marketing information, intercession with manufacturers, entertaining journals, fun and prizes at an annual meeting (and that meeting should be in a “nice” place), higher education and respect, lower costs for just about everything, a “lobbying” house near Capitol Hill, and wide recognition among the public, congress, and other professionals. I might also have wished for a few of those things myself from time to time. Are all these things really the job of a professional academy?

What are the good things that the AAA has done or is doing for Audiology? Here are ten things the Academy might put on their “we did this right” list:

  1. Audiology became more commercial, and did so because of AAA
  2. Audiologist made someone’s “10 Best Jobs” list
  3. The Academy tried really hard to be a lobbying entity and bought a house in DC
  4. The Academy publishes several journals and “trade magazines” each year
  5. AAA embraced the AuD degree and “powered” it to the front of the profession
  6. The Academy “took on” and revised graduate educational programs: the result…
  7. Over 70 academic programs now produce graduate audiologists in the US, and…
  8. AAA has two special certification programs—pediatrics and cochlear implants
  9. The AAA produces/sponsors an annual Trade Show
  10. The Academy took the place of ASHA and some dispenser groups

There are likely a number of audiologists who would disagree about some of these being in the “we did it right” category.  What’s missing from this list?  Ethics definition and enforcement?  Educational standards and consistency?  More emphasis on business?  Professional decisions?  Clinical prowess?  Political power?  Perhaps just as important, what would be on the “we missed the boat” list?

But, again, wait!  Make your own list—either good or bad—and try to put your items in what you think is a reasonable order of importance.  And then, compare it to what you think has been, will be, or should be the tasks of the Academy.  Are you completely satisfied?  Disappointed?  Shocked?  If any of these, your next task should be in helping to decide future direction(s).  After all, it’s your professional Academy.

I hope that you add your comments to this blog.  Perhaps you can help generate some helpful discussions about the future of audiology.  Maybe some of the leaders of the field will listen or even participate.  Perhaps, you might agree with some old audiologists.

And, don’t forget, you really owe it to the Academy  to write them a note also.


Dr. Metz has been a practicing audiologist for over 45 years, having taught in several university settings and,  in partnership with Bob Sandlin, providing continuing education for audiology and dispensing in California for over 3 decades.  Mike owned and operated a private practice in Southern California for over 30 years.  He has been professionally active in such areas as electric response testing, hearing conservation, hearing aid dispensing, and legal/ethical issues.  He continues to practice in a limited manner in Irvine, California.


About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.


  1. Thank you for your comments. Every audiologist should be a champion or critic (both are many times the same) of issues that promote the profession.

    So, you have the start for a new list of things that need to be or should be addressed by the academy. Do you think that if enough audiologists brought this to the academy that action would be taken?

    To reiterate a non-spoken point, my list of 10 things that the academy might say they did correctly are issues that many of us think should not be on such a “we did it right” list.

  2. This is an admirable summary and 10 a nice round number. Yet, what I see missing is the patient and a client centered approach. At a 2 day professional conference, I watched as members took notes on marketing, unbundling and growing a practice and I thought, all that’s really needed is to connect and best serve patients and the practice will grow. Support groups; specifically HLAA offer emotional support, coping skills and an open forum to share experiences around hearing loss for both the individual and their partners. Give the gift of HLAA to your patients and your practice; connect and participate in local chapter and state programs, work alongside clients as they advocate for accessibility, policy changes. Support the volunteer efforts of this group who exists solely to enhance the quality of life of those for whom hearing technology is an essential part of everyday life. We are better together.

  3. Michael, thanks for writing a thought-provoking piece. It is definitely time to look back, see how far we have come, and how far yet we have to go. Time to take stock, and alter course as needed.

    I agree with you that educational standards were and still are a big part of AAA’s reason for existence. Educational standards are the entry point, the foundation, the key in the door, the path to continuous improvement and so much more that is absolutely critical to a strong and healthy profession. We have worked hard to develop our own standards, because many people saw an obvious need for a model that is rigorous, doctoral level, and covers all areas of audiologic practice. ACAE was developed by many, many interested volunteers over the past 10 years. Tradition keeps audiology wedded with speech-language pathology in training programs and in accreditation. I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad – there can be real value in interdisciplinary education, and efficiency in shared resources. But, we must develop and own our own standards, and keep them current to stay at the top of our game.

    To that end, the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE) has spent the last 4 years extensively studying, gathering input and totally updating our Audiology (AuD) standards for the next 10 years. We sought and received input from the ABA practice analysis, and more than 1200 comments were received from faculty, clinicians, universities and industry partners to make these standards rigorous and comprehensive. I invite you to take a look on our website for the new standards, and the May/June issue of Audiology Today for more information and to see the updated standards for yourself.

  4. AMEN. Thank you Juliette Sterkens. The Hearing Loss Assn. of America (HLAA), and Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) before it, has been trying to convince the professionals who serve us to embrace this concept for over three decades! Hearing aids without telecoils are like cars without air conditioning. You don’t need it all the time, but when you do they are invaluable. Assistive technology that goes beyond hearing aids and cochlear implants is the key to a happier life for millions of hard of hearing people. It doesn’t matter if one’s loss is mild, moderate, severe or profound. We all want to hear as best we can in all situations….and that often requires more tech than ‘fits the ear’. It’s unfair to all hard of hearing people to think those with less severe losses don’t need ALDs. Do us all a favor and make showing your patients how telecoils work in a setting that matters as part of your practice before you sell to them. Your kindness will come back tenfold.

  5. Nice comments and perhaps the start to a “we should do this” list. Who wouldn’t agree that audiology has not done enough of this kind of public service? Should or could the academy take a larger role in this type of project? If they should take a leadership role, why don’t they?

  6. Nice thought provoking write up. I, think what is missing from this list is AAA’s code of ethics requirement is that AAA members be their clients’ best advocate in their respective communities and ensure that this extends not only in the clinic (by installing hearing loops at the appointment desks and in the waiting rooms) but also beyond the clinic’s door.

    How many providers educate clients about their civil rights under the ADA? How many routinely activate telecoils, and check the telecoil during the fitting process in a looped waiting room? How many refer clients to looped venues to try it out? How many offer a list of area hearing loops and other assistive technology in the area?

    How many AAA members are ambassadors for hearing access in places where we all know hearing aids and CI are unable to deliver? Just try making a video recording of your children (or grandchildren) at a play from the back of the school auditorium. We all know how awful that sounds. Guess what folks? Microphones of hearing aids do not work a whole lot different than those on video cameras or iPhones.

    Imagine 12,000 AAA members routinely acting as hearing ambassadors? Audiologists around the country, who habitually pick up the ADA mandated assistive listening devices when they attend a play, church service or meeting and ask what is done to help their clients hear better or help the venues choose assistive technology that works, actually gets used and is hearing aid user preferred?

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