2004

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2004

The year’s advocacy focus is on improving access to hearing aids, cochlear implants and other technology. SHHH actively supports the hearing aid tax credit bill, and works to increase reimbursement for cochlear implants and to harmonize the Medicare criteria for implantation with those of the FDA. 

The 19th National Convention is in Omaha, Nebraska. The keynote is an entertaining presentation by Jim Fowler (and some of his wildlife), one of the world’s best-known naturalists and former host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and other television shows. Mr. Fowler stressed that we must “realize we are part of the earth’s ecosystem, and learn to respect and live according to the basic biological laws of nature.” 

The Annual Research Symposium sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other communication Disorders is titled The Inner Ear: the 21st Century Frontier. Seven distinguished researchers present their studies that go beyond gene recognition of hearing loss to the next step which includes gene therapies. SHHH Founder Rocky Stone presents Jerry Hohnbaum of North Platte, Nebraska with the Rocky Stone Humanitarian Award. Richard H. Meyer of Illinois becomes the new SHHH President. 

The National Center for Hearing Assistive Technology (NCHAT) receives equipment and financial donations from several manufacturers. During the Convention, on behalf of Cochlear Americas, Donna Sorkin, Vice President, Consumer Affairs, former Executive Director of SHHH presents a check for $10,000 to SHHH for NCHAT. Cochlear Americas also sponsors the production of a booklet: Cochlear Implants and Seniors: When Hearing Aids Aren’t Enough. This is distributed to 150,000 professionals and consumers. 

SHHH has 13 state organizations. Six states hold state or regional conferences. PA and NJ hold leadership trainings. The conferences generate revenue for the state organization, raise awareness of SHHH in each state and bring in new members. Rather than conferences on general hearing loss information, some states chose to focus on specific topics such as assistive technology, employment and leadership. State organizations are building coalitions with other state agencies; representation on state advisory boards is at an all-time high and states are involved in advocacy efforts especially legislation to get hearing aid insurance coverage. 

On August 13, just a few months short of our 25th anniversary, SHHH Founder and Executive Director emeritus Howard E. “Rocky” Stone dies following complications from pneumonia. Hundreds of tributes from all around the world are expressed reflective of his distinguished 25-year CIA career and his humanitarian work for people with hearing loss and other disabilities. He was 79 years old. An endowment fund is initiated in his name. 

The November/December issue of Hearing Loss is a 25th anniversary tribute to SHHH and its founder Rocky Stone. It includes an article by past President Patricia Clickener: SHHH 25 years and Still Growing, A Flashback to 1979, and Earlier. Ms. Clickener reflects on the growth of SHHH along with the amazing advances made for people with hearing loss. 

In November SHHH launches a promising trial run of a new Patron Membership which gives people the option of sending in an additional $10 with their membership dues which is reimbursed to their local chapter. SHHH hopes this will promote membership among chapter participants who are not SHHH members, and further promote the concept of “one SHHH membership.” 

Terry Portis, executive director announces that the last few months of the year show the greatest membership renewal in our history. We now have over 10,000 active, paid national members. This is a five year high for membership. (The highest membership count was in 1997, with just over 11,000.) In addition there are another 4-5,000 participating only at the local level. 

The SHHH website averages over 1 million hits per month and is generating revenue for the first time. It contains nearly 500 pages of information including a new online bookstore. 

SHHH meets the $250,000 Annual Fund goal with 3,000 people – a record number of donors - giving to SHHH. 

SHHH fundraising evening at the Australian Embassy, sponsored in part by Cochlear Americas, is attended by Washington, DC, supporters including U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson. 

SHHH establishes the American Academy of Hearing Loss Support Specialists™. The Academy provides training and oversight for the Certificate in Hearing Loss Support, which establishes a set of core knowledge and basic training for individuals who support and work with people affected by hearing loss. 

SHHH Executive Director Terry Portis appears on the Today Show to an audience of 4.5 million people Relaunched SHHH website – www.hearingloss.org – receives over 3 million hits per month 

SHHH state leadership training held in New Jersey, sponsored by Sprint.