OTC Hearing Aids: Consumer Panel Discussion, Live from 2023 Future of Hearing Healthcare Conference

otc hearing aid consumer opinion
May 18, 2023

This week, Amyn Amlani explores the consumer perspective on over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, live from the Future of Hearing Healthcare 2023 virtual conference.

A thought-provoking panel discussion features three distinguished guests, Gael Hannan, Shari Eberts, and Blake Cadwell, who provide unique and insightful perspectives on the topic of OTC hearing aids and their impressions so far on the impact the regulations are having for consumers and providers.

Full Episode Transcript

Amyn Amlani: My name is Amyn
Amlani, and I’m the moderator

for this panel discussion on
consumer and provider

impressions regarding the OTC
regulations that went into

effect just over six months ago.
With me today are three guests,

Shari Eberts, Gael Hannan and
Blake Cadwell. who will share

their perspectives. Before we
dive into this discussion, I’ll

ask each of you to share a
little bit about yourselves. So

Sherry, would you mind starting,

Shari Eberts: And thank you for
having me on the panel. So I’m

Shari Eberts. I’m a hearing
health advocate and the founder

of living with hearing loss.com,
which is an online community for

people living with hearing loss.
And I’m the executive producer

of we hear you, which is I think
the only documentary about the

lived hearing loss experience.
And then the co author with my

fellow panelist, Gail Hannan, of
Hear and Beyond live skillfully

with hearing loss, which is an
operating manual for clients and

consumers and clinicians about
how to live skillfully with

hearing loss.

Amyn Amlani: Yeah, and I’ll just
put a plug in that book has been

a really, really good resource.
So if you don’t have it, go get

it. Thank you. Gael, would you
mind introducing yourself,


Gael Hannan: I’m Gael Hannon and
just sort of did over what the

Shari said about the book. I am
a Canadian hearing, health

advocate, performer, presenter,
and writer and host my goal for

the 30 years of my advocacy is
to better explain what it’s like

to live with hearing loss. So
everything I do is geared to


Amyn Amlani: Wonderful, thank
you. And Blake, you’re from

Soundly why don’t you share with
folks a little bit about

yourself. And soundly, please.

Blake Cadwell: Yeah, thank you
for having me on the panel. And

it’s great to be here with you
all. So I’m the founder, co

founder at soundly and I am a
hearing aid wearer something

that runs in my family. Wear
hearing aids myself, my mom was

hearing aids, my brother wears
hearing aids. And the reason I

created Soundly is because I
wanted to make the starting

point, the hearing health
category easier for consumers.

So if someone’s just getting
started, maybe in that first

five to 10 hours of their
journey, that’s really what

Soundly is targeted at. So we
have content tools, and lots of

different kinds of experiences
to help folks get going,

figuring out what they might
need, what options they have,

and then they can go from there.
And often that will mean talking

to a clinician or a practitioner
of some kind.

Amyn Amlani: Yeah, yeah, and
we’ll dive into your some of the

findings and some of the, the
impressions that you have of

this technology. And that’ll
really be interesting. So let’s

start out, you know, the OTC
regulations have been out six,

seven months now. And from a
consumers standpoint, since all

of you are on the advocacy side
here. What are our initial

thoughts on the consumer side?
As it relates to let’s start

with accessibility? Have we
improved the goal of making this

technology and services more
accessible to individuals with

hearing loss?

Gael Hannan: I’m going to speak
as a person who’s looking on

from afar, because we do not
have it in Canada. And I’m, I

have two thoughts, I’m very
pumped that this perhaps could

be a more affordable option is
so many people are turned off by

the high ticket price or what
they perceive as the high ticket

price and the value to them.
Well, why? Why is it going to

make my life that much better?
So ticket prices could be lower?

I think that’s wonderful. As a
hearing health advocate, I worry

that are they getting especially
for newcomers? Are they getting

the help that they need to
properly assess their hearing

loss? Are they getting the big
picture which with with Blake

and soundly it’s it helps people
get the big picture they need to

live well with hearing loss. So
in summary, I feel like I’m just

kind of waiting to see it’s only
six months out what the

evaluation, is it good? Is it?
Is it not? What needs to be


Blake Cadwell: I would agree
with that. I think the my

initial perceptions are some
things that I love from an

accessibility standpoint are you
have large household brands who

are now joining into the
conversation I think immediately

changes the level that people
feel they can jump in and access

when you see a brand like Sony
which you know is iconic it

thinks the third largest
headphone maker in the world

putting their brand name on a
product, then suddenly, as a

consumer who maybe knows very
little about hearing how I feel

like I know something about
Sony, I could maybe jump in on a

product like that and give it a
try. It feels a little bit less

opaque in that way. So I love
that. I also love that retail

has entered the category, I
don’t think it’s I don’t think

retail has fully figured out how
to sort the quality products

from the the lower quality
products. And I think that’s a

big challenge. But if you are
someone with hearing loss, who’s

maybe been putting it off for
years, you’re walking by hearing

health products at BestBuy or in
other locations, I think that’s

a really good thing. And
hopefully in time, the kind of

quality will rise, the quality
products will rise to the top.

Shari Eberts: Yeah, and I would
just add, when I think about

accessibility, I think a lot
about competition. And to me,

this is adding new competition,
new brains, new creativity, new

technologies, to helping people
with hearing loss. And so for

me, I don’t think we’re there
yet, you know, six months in.

But as I look down the road, I
think increased competition for

people’s hearing health is a
positive for consumers, it’s

going to create more access in
terms of a wider array of

products, a wider array of
places you can find these

products. And I really hope it’s
going to stimulate sort of more

of a communication specialist
approach from the hearing care

community because it’s not going
to be about the device, the

device is going to be available
in more places. So really where

they can add value is on that
communication specialist side,

what do we do with devices? And
what do we do in addition to the

devices to help communication?
So I’m pretty excited about it.

But it’s definitely early days.

Amyn Amlani: Yeah, and I think
all of the things that you have

talked about were kind of in the
executive order that President

Biden had with in terms of, you
know, competition, and

accessibility and affordability,
and so forth and so on. But I

think there’s a couple of things
here that we really haven’t

touched on yet it since we just
started this this conversation.

And that’s two things. And
number one is uptake. The Uptake

has not yet met the standards of
what the industry was

predicting. So the question
becomes, why is that? I think

that’s the first piece. And then
I think the second piece of that

is is what about the literacy
that goes with the uptake?

Because I think that’s one area,
that hearing healthcare needs a

little bit of polishing in order
to ensure that consumers really

understand what they’re getting
themselves into. And I think we

talked a little bit about that.
So you take those by the horns,

and let’s see where we go with

Blake Cadwell: Yeah, I think
I’ve certainly heard and, you

know, I don’t know if I had a
specific prediction of how much

uptake would would occur, I
think there’s going to be always

going to be new and uncharted
territory for the industry. But

I’ve certainly heard the
conversation that this was lower

the the adoption rates were
lower than what people were

expecting. And I think if you
look at other industries, where

things have evolved and changed
over time, perhaps there was a

bit more expectation than there
should have been in terms of the

speed of adoption. You know, I
think this takes time, there’s a

lot of interest. But truly, I
you know, I wear a prescription

product, I have not switched
OTC, my mom was a prescription

product has not switched, my
brother has not switched. These

are all, you know, the real life
use cases. And I think that’s

true of so many people who are
already in hearing aids, and

then you think about new folks
entering the market. We know the

decision timeframe for this is
extremely long. And so maybe

you’re sparked to start thinking
about it in October of last

year. Do you then ultimately
decide to make a decision a year

from now? You know, I think data
would predict Yes, that’s

probably about right, or maybe a
few years from now. And

hopefully we can shorten that
time window with prices and

other things. But, you know, I
think to expect this to be an

overnight shift in the market,
it was probably never really

going to be that. And so, you
know, I’m not sure that that’s

an easy way to decide whether
this was successful or not.

Gael Hannan: You know, we I
question how is this being

advertised? Does the average
consumer who’s starting to think

something too going on here? Do
they know what OTC means? How is

it being advertised? And we know
that these issues product only

become of interest to people
when it started to happen to

them, you know, you can see ads
for things and unless you have

that problem unless you have
hearing loss, you’re not going

to even almost notice that ad.
So how is it being advertised?

How is it being presented to
American that here’s here’s an

option that they might want To
consider that’s different from

those $29.99 things that can
help you hear a pin drop across

the net the room. So that’s my
question is an outsider.

Shari Eberts: And I would say,
I’m not sure that the products

that are out there yet are the
right products. You know, I

think we’re really just getting
started with this. I think if

you look at what’s available, a
lot of them the price points are

too high. Right. So I mean, the
differential between a

prescription product and an OTC
product isn’t wide enough, in

terms of, of what people are
looking for. And I also think

that some of the lower cost
products haven’t had Bluetooth

connectivity or things like
that. And so, to me, we haven’t

really hit that sweet spot of
what an OTC device looks like.

So I feel like it’s definitely
that time issue. You know, I

don’t know why we all thought we
were going to sort of snap our

fingers and like, be off to the
races. But I think it’s going to

take time for the consumers to
educate the market a little bit,

and for the makers of these
devices to find that sweet spot.

But I don’t think we’re there
yet. And I think that’s a little

bit of an issue with the uptake
as well.

Blake Cadwell: I think that’s
such an important point is

there’s the OTC devices
currently occupy an interesting

in between space in the market.
And in, you know, in the tech

world, there’s the term product
market fit. And I would

completely agree with you share
that, I don’t think we’ve

achieved that there’s not a
moment where it’s like every

consumers having this aha
moment, that’s the product that

is winning here. And I think
there’s a real chance that that

does happen. And so I think
that’s a challenge to the

innovators in this space to
recognize that that that could

easily happen at some moment.
We’re not there yet. It’s still

very, there lots of products on
the market. And nobody’s decided

which ones are the real winners,
likely, we will see some winners

emerge. And I think that’s
probably what we’ll see in the

next four or five years.

Gael Hannan: When Shari and I
were writing a book, we, this

was before OTC came out. But
Shari often talks about how an

OTC product could be a good
backup set of devices that would

work in certain situations or
just to have a backup, because

we all live in fear of losing
our devices. And it usually

happens on a Friday when
nobody’s available to help us.


Amyn Amlani: yeah. 100% in yours
just for the audience, just a

couple of things. The the
estimates range as low that I’ve

seen anyway, where they were
expecting about 800,000 units to

be sold within the first six
months. And I’ve seen numbers as

high as three and 4 million. I
don’t know who’s calculating

these numbers. I don’t have that
information. But it’s, it’s not

been that high. And then the
other point, Shari, which I

think is really interesting. I
actually was picking up a

prescription the other day at
Walgreens. And there was an

elderly gentleman that was
actually looking at the the

Lexie device on this on the
shelf there. And he looked at it

and he looked at all the other
prices because the the hearing

aids are actually shelved with
the the monitors for blood

pressure for diabetes
thermometers, and all these

other things. And all these
things range from I’m doing this

from memory, about $30, maybe to
$100. And then as you pointed

out, it may be too expensive.
Well, you got a $900 unit

sitting there. And he looked at
it and said, Why is this really

expensive unit sitting here,
when all of these other price

points are here. So he was price
anchored to a lower number. And

when he switched over to look,
he was astonished to see that it

was that expensive. So I think
as you guys have pointed out, we

haven’t found that sweet spot,
not only with the product, not

only with the features, but and
how to showcase this

information. And then if we talk
about literacy, how do we

communicate the benefits of
these technologies, which we

don’t know yet? Because they’re
so new to the marketplace?

Shari Eberts: Absolutely. And I
think that it’s it’s also about

use case, you know, I think
sometimes these over the counter

hearing aids will be used
differently than prescription

hearing aids. If you have a mild
hearing loss, it really might be

a situational thing. And we sort
of need to accept that and meet

those consumers where they are,
maybe they’re not going to be

wearing these devices. 24/7 You
know, like we all do, they’re

going to need them when they go
to the restaurant or they go to

a lecture or they go to the
movies or whatever use case it

is that they need them for and
we need to make sure that

products are priced
appropriately for that type of

situation to it’s hard to
imagine spending 1000s of

dollars for something that
you’re going to use just

occasionally versus something
that you’re going to be using

all day long. So again, sort of
finding that sweet spot for the

different use case cases of the
over the counter devices.

Gael Hannan: It again it, it
boils down to how they see the

value of this in their lives and
understand the hearing loss,

understand how devices work, the
communication and the value to

them. And I think there’s just a
lot more information that the

pharmacist isn’t going to
provide. Not doesn’t have the,

I’m assuming, doesn’t it not
completely literate on that,

where this is where the role, I
think of the hearing healthcare

professional still is absolutely
crucial. And if they can

incorporate start to incorporate
the other devices and become a

communication specialist, which
is what we as people with

hearing loss want, how can my
life be better? What do I need?

What should I expect? So there’s
just a long way to go and

understanding what these devices

Amyn Amlani: Yeah, and I was
just going to add real quickly

is Shari, and you’ve pointed out
as well, Gael, on value, your I

think you’ll see a tiered
system, just like we have with

the prescriptive devices, these
devices are situational, this is

the value that they bring, this
is the price point for them. And

these other devices are you’re
going to use them for maybe more

speech and noise. In adverse
situations, that cost a little

bit more, because the technology
costs a little bit more. And

again, they’re situational, but
they’re a little bit different.

And they’re emitting that value
of your inabilities to

communicate annoying. So I think
we’ll start to see those kinds

of things. And we can look back
on this, this panel and in a few

years and seeing how right or
wrong we were. But yeah, it’s

gonna be interesting. So now
that we’ve talked about the

consumer side, let’s talk a
little bit about providers,

because I know there’s some
anxiety, there’s some

hesitation, and then there’s
another group that’s, you know,

all on board with this
technology. What are your

initial thoughts on how the
provider should embrace and

accept this technology? I mean,
it’s here, it’s not going to go

away, you can’t, you can’t go to
the government now and say, We

want to veto this because it’s
not going to happen. So what are

some early impressions that you
may have heard or that you have?

And then we’ll dive into, you
know, what we know about the

technology, I know soundly has
some data. And then we can start

to think about and talk about,
you know, the implications for

the provider as they start to
embrace and utilize in

dispensing these in their

Blake Cadwell: I think my my
early take would be, I echo what

Gael just said, which is that
the role of the provider likely

shifts from sort of being a tech
expert on what’s available and

or programming that that device
to a human focused, coach,

advocate, partner, you know, get
moving into this space. That is

much broader about
communication. I think that’s

what you just said, Gael and I
love that, I think, to bet

against, you know, I’ve heard I
was just at the AAA conference,

and, you know, heard this broad
sentiment that OTC technology is

not quite there. It’s not quite
as premium as prescriptive

technology. And that’s true. And
as I mentioned, I still wear

prescriptive devices, I think
that’s absolutely going to be

true probably for the next
couple of years. But to bet

against technology becoming
advanced enough for folks to be

able to get really good results,
through the advances of things

like AI and other technology, I
think is probably the wrong bet.

I think technology will get
there, it probably will get

there within the next few years.
And consumers want. They want

the ability to make changes
themselves. They want the

ability to impact and affect the
sound quality of their devices.

I know I do. And I know Gael,
I’ve heard you say similar

things. I think this is true of
my mom and people want the

control. So then what’s the role
of the specialist I think the

specialist or the audiologist or
the professional is really the

person that’s helping coach you
through your whole life

situation and all of the issues
that you might be having related

to communication. I think it’s
exactly what you just said,

Gael, and that, to me, that’s
incredibly exciting. Because

when when I visited the
audiologist, we only talk about

the device, we don’t talk about
anything else. We don’t talk

about, you know, the fact that
I’m a parent, or I’m married, or

I also have, you know, different
communication challenges. We’re

really focused on programming
and device and I think there’s

an opportunity to evolve past

Shari Eberts: I was just gonna
say 100% agree with that. And I

really think it’s an opportunity
for the professionals to

highlight really where they add
the most value, right? I mean,

it’s great when they can program
the devices and, and all that

but what’s really the magic is
when they can help you in all

aspects of your life. Being a
parent, being a child, being a

worker, being you know, all
these things that we do in our

lives. So I’m hoping that OTC
will help them focus on that,

because the devices are going to
be the least important part of

it, right, there’s going to be
great technologies you can buy

from them, or other great
technologies you can buy

elsewhere and really where they
can thrive, and show their value

is an all these other things. So
I hope that they embrace that,

you know, change is hard, right
for everybody. So it may take

some time. But I think the best
practitioners are going to

welcome these people into their
practices, and begin to offer

devices that are, you know, OTC
devices as well, and just expand

their practice and expand their
purpose. And I think that’s

something to be very optimistic

Gael Hannan: I think that what
this is really going to entail

is the need to for a big shift
in the education of audiologist

and hearing instrument
specialist to at the, at the

level where they when they’re
learning in the university, then

because it, they need to see
that role differently. And if we

can be adopted in the audiology
curriculum around the country,

this will make it easier going
forward. It’s a very different

world out there than for
audiologists coming through 10

to 15 years ago. So as you said,
like change is is challenging,

or Shari said that and but it is
the real world. And are we as

consumers are much better now at
articulating what we need.

Blake Cadwell: Yeah, I’ll just
one other thing I’ll add is

that, you know, based on the
data, we see that soundly and

just other, you know, the trends
that I that I’m seeing in the

industry, folks don’t want to do
this fully by themselves. When

you use something like self bid
or self directed or DIY, those

are not popular terms. And so I
think the notion that folks are

just going to walk away, never
want to talk to someone again, I

don’t see that happening, maybe
ever, even as technology

advances. I think it’s just
shifting this role from we

talked about the device to we
talk about your life. And I

think that’s the big the big

Amyn Amlani: Yeah, 100% percent.
I think one of the other things

in that you knew all touched on
this is the change. You know,

audiology is very transactional.
It’s very like it’s very much

like medicine, you see somebody
and then you don’t see them

until they have to come back in.
And I think the OTC market is

going to force audiologists, at
least in hearing care, or

throughout hearing care, to
ensure that they continue to see

that individual throughout their
lifespan, as they’re on this

journey to hearing better. And
they may start out in an OTC and

then gradually move maybe to an
economy line devices, because

that’s what they can afford, and
eventually move up the chain

until they get to that Cadillac
or that that product that is

really suited for them. But it’s
going to take them time. And so

you know, we usually fit a
hearing, I think, once or twice,

I think is the average think
it’s twice on an individual. By

the time, you know, they’ve
they’ve stopped pushing their

deceit, they’re deceased, we can
move that age group down and fit

and five, six times over that
span. We’re doing them a

justice. And they’re having the
opportunities to scale given

where they are financially,
where they are with, with the

use of technology, and so forth
and so on. All right. So Blake,

it soundly I know you all have
been quantifying and qualifying

some of this technology. Can you
share a little bit about that?

Blake Cadwell: Yeah, yeah. So
we’re one of the things that we

really focus on as this market
is evolving. We know consumers

are taking a more active role in
both care for themselves. And

then also the research, even if
they’re going to go see a care

professional or an audiologist,
they want to know they want to

know what are the good brands,
what brands are my kind of

interested in, should I go OTC
or should I not? And so in order

to answer that question for
folks or help them answer that

question, we’ve been hard at
work and publishing a lot of

side by side research, so
helping quantify features and

the kind of capabilities of each
of the devices across OTC and

prescription. And then recently,
we actually went through a

process of recording live sound
through 20 plus devices. So we

worked with Rob and the AHead
simulations team, fellow

Canadians for you, Gael, who
offered us the so they have the

technology allows us to record
inside of a realistic ear canal.

Dr. Amy on the Soundly Team was
a part of programming all of

these hearing aids to the same
hearing loss and then we

recorded the output and so you
can now play with those sounds

on on sound a.com. And, you
know, I think the biggest thing

we found out there. If you
listen to the devices, you can

tell, you can absolutely hear a
difference. I think the biggest

thing we’ve found is that folks
feel more confident. Once

they’ve had a chance to listen
to a few devices, it’s not

necessarily that there’s a sort
of lightning rod. Oh, I

absolutely know I’m a widex
person after listening to that

to that sound file, because that
usually comes from a more

immersive experience. But what
they’re feeling is a feeling

more confident that they’ve been
able to at least test drive a

few of these and now have a
reference point. And, you know,

I think in a lot of cases, we’re
seeing folks choose at this

point, we’re seeing folks choose
prescription products after

going through that that process.
And I think that does speak to

where we are in the maturity of
the OTC market. Most folks who

go through those steps are in
fact, opting for some sort of a


Amyn Amlani: support. That’s
really interesting. That’s

really interesting. I urge
everybody to get on that on that

website. Is that website free?
Or is there a fee for it? I can

talk a little bit about that.

Blake Cadwell: No, it’s like,
yeah, absolutely. It’s free.

Yeah, if you go to just
soundly.com. And if you go to

the there’s a compare section of
the site, you can add multiple

hearing aids to a compare
section, you can listen to them

all side by side, we have
streaming samples, background

noise samples, and a quiet with
TV sample to indicate any

individual products you can also
like in that location. And I’ll

warn everyone please wear
headphones, we recorded it with

a binaural microphone, which
sounds terrible coming out of

your computer’s we also have
that that alert on the site. But

if you listen to binaural sounds
coming through a computer

speaker it just doesn’t work.
But if you listen through

headphones, simplistic and

Amyn Amlani: helpful compare.
That’s That’s good information.

Gael Hannan: This is
fascinating, because I’ve always

operated under the view that it
takes a good month to properly

assess how things sound and to
be able to do the process you

just described makes me feel
very anxious. In my stomach

that, so I can’t wait to go and
check that out. My issue is that

I streamed through my devices
from my computer. So how what I

objectively assess a product
through already hearing it, but

it’s something we can talk about

Blake Cadwell: Yeah, no, it’s
it’s a fair, it’s a fair point.

It’s so folks who use their
devices exclusively and don’t

use headphones, there’s going to
be a tougher feature for them. I

think mostly it’s built for
folks who are more comfortable

with headphones, or are even in
the pre hearing aid phase of

their life. I think probably
mostly folks who have never

heard a hearing aid before are
kind of like, what does this

sound like, I don’t even really
understand what the difference

would be. And we have a hearing
loss file. So you know, it’s the

hearing loss, and then you can
compare it to the hearing aid

file. And you understand, Oh,
here’s, here’s the clarity I’m

going to achieve. And then of
course, across the different

devices. And I think to your
point, Gael, the ability to

truly assess the quality of a
pair of hearing aids, it really

you can’t do it in just a moment
it takes it’s about it’s about

programming, it’s about a whole
bunch of different things. But

when you’ve never had any
exposure to all of the other

ones, so maybe you’ve just tried
one or you’ve just tried to

there’s always this feeling. And
this is at least something I’ve

had, where you’re like, what
about the other ones, I’ve heard

their marketing, and you know,
it’s a credibly fast processing,

or they do better and background
noise or you know, you hear

these these marketing slogans
like, well, maybe that would be

a big difference for me. And so
going through and kind of

listening, you at least get a
sense for okay, this is likely

very similar, to be honest. But
but it’s also there are some

nuances, and you can start to
gather those nuances.

Shari Eberts: I think it sounds
like a fascinating thing to do.

I’m gonna definitely check that
out. One thing that I wonder

about, though, is sort of the
form factor as well, right? So

there’s the sound quality. And
then there’s what does it look

like? And so for us who, you
know, we rely on these to hear

maybe we are not as worried
about what it looks like. But I

think if you think about that
mild to moderate customer, who’s

just starting the hearing loss
journey, there’s a lot of stigma

surrounding that. And so yes,
the sound quality is important,

but what these things look like,
and how they’re going to fit

into their lifestyle is also
very important. And I think

that’s one area where we haven’t
seen we’ve seen some innovation

in terms of the over the counter
devices there, but not as much

as I would hope. And I don’t
know, like, is that something

that you highlight on the site
as well, sort of what the

different devices look like, and
how can people test that out?

Blake Cadwell: Absolutely. Yeah.
So I mean, we’ve got photos and

videos of everything, usually
try to do it on on model or

anywhere so you can kind of get
a sense for it. I think you’re

exactly right that when people
start their journey, and I was

in a similar place, you’re
looking for something invisible,

you want something, you know, I
was looking like what’s modern,

like I just don’t want it to
feel kind I’m old school. I want

it to be interesting and new and
like the best that’s available.

What’s interesting is we’ll see
a lot of folks start with an

invisible search. So they’re
interested in invisible

products. And then you see them
you can watch the watch the the

evolution of their of their
session on the site, you see

them slowly evolved towards a
wreck, as they probably

realized, like, Okay, I want
streaming, I actually do want

rechargeable batteries. And then
I think that becomes the

challenge to the design, just
like you know, I love the new, I

think Genesis just released a
really interesting new design.

And you know, the manufacturers
are always pushing that in terms

of size, and the sleekness and,
but at least for now, that’s the

journey we took, we often see
someone starts with an invisible

interest. And then they slowly
evolve their way into what what

I wear and what many people
wear, which is that receiver in

Canal. And obviously, for many
people, that is the most

discreet, my ear is almost
entirely open. I don’t have

domes. So it’s you know,

Amyn Amlani: it’s fairly
discreet. Alright, so last

question. And that is, we’ve had
a wonderful conversation here. I

thank you all for your input.
Now long term, what are the

messages to the provider and the
consumers as we are on this

journey? So Shari I’ll start
with you. Yeah, I would say for

the providers,

Shari Eberts: again, just I
encourage you to meet the

consumers where they are, and to
focus on lifestyle and

communication strategies, in
addition to technology, and I

think that OTC is going to
naturally evolve in that

direction. And then for
consumers, I would say, your

hearing is important, but it’s
associated with so much of your

health, so much of your
happiness and your well being.

So please take your hearing
seriously, please treat any type

of hearing loss that you are
noticing. And I hope that these

OTC devices will give people
more opportunities to sort of

start that journey earlier, and
to start taking care of their

hearing loss sooner, so that
they continue to just stay

healthy and stay involved with
the people and the activities

that they love.

Amyn Amlani: wonderful, Gael

Gael Hannan: Oh, my gosh, Shari,
you just got me right here on

that. That was that. And that is
so true. I don’t have that much

to add, because this is a shared
philosophy that Sherry And I’ve

spent the last couple of years.
But it I think, again, to

providers, we need the big
picture. All we know is that we

struggle in certain situations,
we need more a better vision of

what to expect what not to
expect and how things can be

different. Because this is
something we don’t instinctively

know, this is such a role for
the provider to help us get that

big picture and to make informed
collaborative decisions. And to

the consumer. Is it be open and
be think really, how important

is communication to you don’t
communication is the glue that

connects us to each other and to
the world. And when it’s

fractured, and even a little
bit, it has major impact. So the

soak up what you can because the
payoff will be long and, and good.

Blake Cadwell: Yeah, I, I love
the the points that have been

made already. I think, you know,
we’ve talked about it a lot on

the provider side, it’s it’s
this shift from a device focus

conversation patient to what’s
going on in your life counseling

and a lot of ways and kind of
that type of relationship. I

think to consumers, my
encouragement would be just

start, it’s actually really hard
to make a mistake in this space.

And it’s that contrary to the
message that a lot of people

feel as if you’re sitting in a
pre hearing aid space in your

life, if you haven’t gotten a
device. My encouragement would

be if you have a pair of air
pods Pro, we have a great

resource on our blog for how to
turn them into transparency

mode, and you will have your
first pair of hearing aids and

you’re in and now you can start
to improve from there. If you

see a device that you think is
of interest, give it a try.

Obviously make sure it’s safe,
don’t don’t buy something that

is going to hurt you or isn’t
isn’t credible in some way. But

it’s a lot harder to make a
mistake in this space than

people kind of crack it up to be
in my opinion. Most products

have return policies. If you
don’t like the product, send it

back. Get another one. It’s it’s
easy to stay on the sidelines

forever if you feel like you
have to get it exactly right the

first time. Chances are you
won’t. And so that’s always my

message to consumers is just try
something and you know, I know

in my experience the first time
I got amplification, I was like

oh, I guess I know I’m gonna
need to do this more often

because this is different. But
we before you you get

amplification. You don’t know
what that feels. Feeling is and

what you might be missing.

Amyn Amlani: Well folks, there
we have it two great advice from

three experts in this in this
area. And I want to thank all

three of you for your time and
your expertise. And hopefully we

can do this in a year or so and
look back on this and see how

right we were and how far we’ve
traveled. So, thank you again.



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About the Panel

Shari Eberts

Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss, (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues. Connect with Shari: BlogFacebookLinkedInTwitter.

 Amyn M. Amlani, PhD, is President of Otolithic, LLC, a consulting firm that provides competitive market analysis and support strategy, economic and financial assessments, segment targeting strategies and tactics, professional development, and consumer insights. Dr. Amlani has been in hearing care for 25+ years, with extensive professional experience in the independent and medical audiology practice channels, as an academic and scholar, and in industry. Dr. Amlani also serves as section editor of Hearing Economics for Hearing Health Technology Matters (HHTM).

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog The Better Hearing Consumer, 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.

Blake Cadwell the CEO and Founder of Soundly, a hearing aid comparison site that aims to help consumers navigate the first steps of hearing care in a modern way. After waiting almost two decades to take his hearing loss seriously, he got hearing aids in 2020.

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