Since 2003 HLAA has supported legislation that would allow consumers to receive a tax credit for the purchase of hearing aids. Several iterations of the tax credit bill have been introduced over the span of nearly 14 years, and none have passed. HLAA has therefore decided to focus its efforts and resources on initiatives that we believe will have a more far-reaching impact.
HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley and Director of Public Policy Lise Hamlin attended the final Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Open Commission Meeting of 2016 on December 15. Several HLAA chapter members were in attendance as well, including Veronica Davila Steele, who heads up the new Prince George’s County (Maryland) Chapter; Russell Misheloff, leader of the Washington, DC Chapter; and Barry Kasinitz from the Montgomery County (Maryland) Chapter.
On December 1, 2016, Senate Bill S.9 was introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to provide for the regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. The “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016” would make certain types of hearing aids available over the counter and remove many of the barriers for consumers who could benefit from hearing aids.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee) is working on a negotiated rulemaking (RegNeg) to create an agreement between advocates for people with disabilities and the airline industry to ensure greater access.
On August 4, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules to ensure people with hearing loss have full access to wireless devices. As the FCC noted, the action taken “will modernize existing hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules while maintaining the balance between fostering accessibility and promoting innovation and investment.”
HLAA filed comments with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in response to their draft Advisory Circular (AC), Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities.
The FAA offered the AC for public review and comments in June 2016. The AC provides guidance and recommendations for operators of airports to ensure access to airports by individuals with disabilities. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TDI) both signed onto HLAA's comments.