With her signature on House Bill 48, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico has guaranteed that hearing aid buyers will now be counseled in telecoil technology, which allows hearing aids to connect wirelessly to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant assistive listening systems. HB 48 was developed by the Committee for Communication Access in New Mexico (CCAnm). The CCAnm was instrumental in the bill’s passing and has several members with ties to HLAA, including Stephen O. Frazier, who co-chairs the committee and also serves as a volunteer advisor to the HLAA Get in the Hearing Loop program.
More than 70 percent of hearing aid models currently on the market have or can be fitted with telecoils, yet a recent survey found that 66 percent of first-time hearing aid buyers were not told about this no-cost option, which can double the functionality of their hearing aids.
“There oughta be a law.” That’s what so many people say who hadn’t been told by their hearing care provider about telecoils. They want people counseled in the technology so hearing aid buyers, not their providers, can make a decision about their need for the technology. New Mexico now joins six other states where there is such a law.
House Bill 48 requires the state’s Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensing Practices Board to adopt ethics rules requiring that purchasers be informed of options that provide a direct connection between hearing aids and ADA compliant assistive listening systems.
Currently, telecoils are the only technology that meets the ADA hearing aid compatibility requirement but, if and when other technology is developed, the bill already covers them. HB 48 was developed by the CCAnm and was expertly guided through the New Mexico House by Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D. Abq). Rep. Greg Schmedes (R. Abq) joined her as a co-sponsor and Sen. Candace Gould (R. Abq) carried the bill in the Senate.
This was a team effort composed of the legislators listed above and all members of the CCAnm who are listed below. This legislation had the support of HLAA, The Association of Late Deafened Adults, AARP, a former president of the American Academy of Audiology, and other nationally prominent advocates for people with hearing loss.
Comparable legislation is under consideration in Indiana and Washington and will soon be introduced in Wisconsin. It is anticipated that advocates in California, Colorado and Iowa, where such campaigns did not succeed in the past, will mount a new effort for the passage of such legislation. As this legislative movement continues it is expected that advocates in other states will also think “there oughta be a law” and organize efforts to make it happen.
The Committee for Communication Access was created to advocate for the needs and concerns of hard of hearing New Mexicans and is made up of hearing care consumers and other stakeholders from throughout the state in partnership with the New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons and the Governor’s Commission on Disability. The CCAnm members include:
- Stephen Frazier – hearing loss support specialist and volunteer advisor to the HLAA Get in the Hearing Loop program, co-chair
- Nathan Gomme – executive director, New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, co-chair
- Karen Courtney Peterson – executive director, New Mexico Governor’s Commission on Disability
- Norm Dawson – HLAA Albuquerque Chapter
- John Hooper – HLAA Santa Fe Chapter
- Mike Langner- broadcast engineer, advocate for people with hearing loss
- Michael Lieberman – HLAA Las Cruces Chapter
- Dick Meyer – past chair, HLAA Board of Trustees
- Roy Miller – past president, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Association of Late Deafened Adults
- Carol Sliney – past member, HLAA Board of Trustees and the board of the Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
For more information, contact Stephen O. Frazier, CCAnm co-chair, at CCAnm@juno.com or 505.554.7186.