Editor’s note: Today we bring an opinion piece from Amit Gosalia, AuD, and Judy Huch, AuD, regarding the purpose behind a recent petition being circulated in the audiology community. They share their perspective with us today.
by Amit Gosalia and Judy Huch
What started out as an education piece about the importance of keeping over the counter (OTC) hearing aids available only to those with mild and moderate hearing loss, became the catalyst to a revolution in Audiology. When the over-the-counter hearing aid movement began nationally, many articles criticizing Audiologists began to surface. Although there were some positive articles published with the help of Audiologists, many of the responses from the public were even worse and contained false or misleading information about what Audiologists do as well as claims of greed and unethical practices.
One positive article was published in The Hill the day before Thanksgiving. Former HHTM contributor, Judy Huch, was selected as a fellow for the OpEd Project which helps women find their voices in their areas of expertise. The program requires 2 published pieces in a 9-month time period. Dr. Huch had her first success immediately with The Hill, accepting her topic on how the market will be changing as the tech firms enter hearing aid market. Once the piece was published, as expected, there were negative comments from the public, one in particular, from a self-proclaimed expert who has a daughter with a hearing loss, sparked outrage on the online audiology Facebook page, Audiology Happy Hour.
The commenter stated “The FDA needs to protect consumers from Tech companies AND Audiologists who have a conflict of interest since they prescribe and sell hearing aids” and “Audiologists do not, in my opinion, know what they are selling and consumers have no idea what they are buying. It is time to change this untenable dynamic.”
These comments, along with those in response to other articles published nationally, are a direct attack against those who provide audiological care. Although several Audiologists responded in favor of our industry, many started to question why our national organizations were not speaking up. The discussion turned to- if they won’t help, we need to help ourselves. Thus, the start of a movement.
National Audiology Organizations Not Speaking Up?
Amit Gosalia, Au.D, who co-manages the Audiology Happy Hour Facebook page, began recruiting Audiologists who were frustrated by the lack of a national response as well as those who were motivated, to find a solution. The group grew to over 50 Audiologists very quickly, including past American Academy of Audiology presidents, Audiology leaders and those who wanted to see change in our profession.
The bottom line is, we want to have a better, more united voice for Audiology to counter-act the entire negative persona that is happening and we knew AAA could manage this.
The petition, which received over 1600 signatures in two days, was directed to the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) Board for the following:
1– A national advertising campaign that will launch in the Spring of 2018. This campaign will educate the public about the differences between Audiologists and hearing aid dispensers as well as how and why Audiologists are BEST suited to assist the public with their hearing health care and balance needs. This national campaign would be a collaborative grassroots effort, which can include work at the state level and a task force developed in conjunction with the writers of this letter.
2– An organized local, state and national level education-based “pro-audiology” campaign, including consistent press release “blitzes” on audiology and its value to consumers.
3– Software and bots enabled to detect negative articles and postings about audiology, and to respond in kind with pro-audiology and pro-professionally managed healthcare responses.
4– Developed and vetted talking points, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents for Audiologists to use when responding to anti-audiology sentiments and messages so the appropriate message is consistently delivered.
Many in the group feel that audiology has missed many opportunities to set ourselves apart from other professions, and our national organizations may never have a united voice. We must work harder at the State and local levels to promote audiology. The bottom line is Audiologists must become engaged or we will become extinct.
Petition: Organizations Hearing the Message?
The petition along with the letter can be found here.
For questions or comments Dr. Gosalia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Huch can be reached at email@example.com