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Hearing Aids and Other Assistive Devices: Where to Get Assistance

People who are deaf and hard of hearing must often pay out-of-pocket for aids and equipment that are not generally covered by insurance. This can create financial difficulties for people who need such aids to help them. As a result, people with hearing loss, their families, and the professionals who work with them must spend considerable time trying to find financial assistance for purchasing hearing aids and other assistive devices.

There are resources available to help defray the cost of these devices. However, locating such resources can be challenging for many people. In response to the many questions received on this topic, we have surveyed centers serving deaf and hard of hearing people in selected states throughout the United States, in search of agencies, organizations, and programs that may be able to provide hearing aids, TTYs, decoders, and other devices free or at reduced rates. This resource list is the result of our survey.

Please note that not all of the agencies, organizations, or programs are found in every state. You will have to do some preliminary work to find out which of the organizations and programs on the following list are active in your area. Use your local telephone directory to find the telephone numbers for these organizations and contact them concerning specific services and eligibility requirements. Criteria for eligibility and conditions for obtaining needed devices will vary from state to state.

We hope that this list will help lead you to the kind of assistance you need. Please feel free to contact us about this list at: clerc.center@gallaudet.edu.

Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are the most common devices needed by deaf and hard of hearing people. In certain instances, some of the agencies listed can provide new or reconditioned aids free of charge or at reduced rates. Other agencies may offer assistance in obtaining these aids. In some states, Medicaid will help cover the cost of purchasing a hearing aid. Check with your health insurance company regarding its policy coverage for hearing aids. You may also wish to contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for information on insurance coverage of hearing aids and related service. ASHA keeps abreast of current developments and change in the coverage of hearing health care expenses by private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. For more information, please contact:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Blvd.
Rockville, MD 20850-3289
301-897-5700 V/TTY
800-498-2071 V/TTY
800-638-8255 V/TTY
email: actioncenter@asha.org
Website: http://asha.org/

Text Telephones (TTYs)
Telephone accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing people has improved in recent years. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title IV requires that each state maintain a telephone relay service (TRS). These services enable TTY users to communicate with non-TTY users and have been operational since 1993. These programs are usually administered by the state agency on deafness. The state agency invites applications from residents that have a hearing loss or speech impediment.

Applicants are screened for medical and financial eligibility. Once eligibility is established, the agency may give the applicant a TTY at no charge, or may lease or sell the applicant a TTY at substantially reduced rates. In some states, the applicant is given a voucher that may be used to purchase equipment from dealers.

For more information about TTY distribution programs for your state, contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office. For information on an office in your state and what technology services they offer please refer to the following website:

Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program Association (TEDPA)

For more information on Relay services, please contact:

For Relay service (Voice, TTY, and Video) contact:

For Video Relay services contact:

Sources of Assistance
Rehabilitation Service Administration:
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) will provide service for VR clients who meet eligibility requirements. Assistance with hearing aids and devices may be provided to clients who need such devices to secure or retain employment.

U.S. Veterans Administration: All World War I veterans are eligible to receive free hearing aids. Other veterans can receive free hearing aids if their hearing loss is at least 50 percent service-related. Veterans must first contact a V.A. medical facility near their home. The veteran’s health care act provides free TeleCaption decoders to veterans who have profound hearing loss that is service-related. The V.A. will also provide TTYs and telephone amplification devices to veterans with service-related hearing loss.

Civic/Service Organizations: Many community service organizations receive charitable donations to purchase hearing aids and other devices for low income deaf and hard of hearing people. Clubs often recondition hearing aids and donate them to needy individuals. Many of these organizations are listed in your telephone directory.

The following are several organizations that typically offer this type of assistance:

-National Easter Seal Society: http://www.easterseals.com/
-March of Dimes: http://www.marchofdimes.com
-Pioneers: http://www.telecompioneers.org/ 
-Lions Clubs International: http://www.lionsclubs.org/
-Kiwanis Clubs: http://www.kiwanis.org/
-Rotary Clubs: http://www.rotary.org/
-Optimist International: http://www.optimist.org
-The Eric Fund: http:/ericfund.org
-LaSertoma International:  http://www.lasertoma.org

Statewide Agencies/Programs: These agencies and programs provide service to residents of their state. Agencies may be able to provide full or partial assistance depending upon financial circumstances. Medicaid provides service to eligible recipients only. Crippled children’s services may provide hearing aids for children up to 21 years of age from low-income families.

The following are several organizations that typically offer this type of assistance:

-Medicaid: http://www.cms.gov/
-Carolina Children's Communicative Disorders Program (CCCDP) http://www.med.unc.edu/earandhearing/pediatric-services/cccdpgrant
-Crippled Children’s Service: www.abilityfirst.org
-Department of Health and Human Service: http://www.hhs.gov/
-Department of Public Health (Health and Environment, etc.): www.dohc.ie
-Commission for Handicapped Children
-Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (Council for the Hearing Impaired, Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, etc)
-Programs for Individual with Developmental Disabilities
-Family Service Centers

Local Agencies/Programs: Local agencies sometimes receive donations or private funds to assist with various needs. Speech and hearing centers may provide hearing aids at a reduced rate for clients who have used their service for audiological assessment. Some areas have hearing aid banks that distribute reconditioned hearing aids to individuals ineligible for finical assistance. These banks are often affiliated with local service organizations such as:

-United Way: http://national.unitedway.org/
-Child Health Centers
-Speech and hearing centers
-Organizations for older adults
-Deaf community centers
-Organizations for Deaf and hard of hearing people
-Religious organizations/institutions
-Hearing aid banks

Hear Now: This unique national program provides assistance to individuals and families with limited financial resources. HEAR NOW maintains the National Hearing Aid Bank, which provides new and reconditioned hearing aids to deaf and hard of hearing people who cannot afford them. These hearing aids are distributed through hearing health care providers in communities nationwide. HEAR NOW also has a cochlear implant program that raises funds to provide cochlear implant and related service to both adults and children. In addition, HEAR NOW has developed the National Hearing Assistance Directory (NHAD), which provides state-by-state listings of financial and social resources offered through government agencies and private organizations.

For further information contact:

Hear Now
6700 Washington Avenue South
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
800-648-4327 V/TTY
952-947-4997 FAX
E-mail: nonprofit@starkey.com

Miracle-Ear Children’s Foundation: This program provides new or reconditioned “Miracle-Ear” hearing aids and service free of charge to families who have hearing impaired children ages 16 years or younger, with an income level that does not allow them to receive public support. Dahlberg, Inc. is a corporate sponsor, which donates hearing aids for needy children and underwrites the foundation’s administrative costs. Eligibility for hearing aids and other services requires disclosure of complete financial information for individuals residing in the same household.

For further information about the service that Miracle-Ear Children’s Foundation offers, contact:

Miracle-Ear Children’s Foundation

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, Inc.: The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is a lifelong resource, support network, and advocate for listening, learning, talking, and living independently with hearing loss. Through publications, outreach, training, scholarships, and financial aid, AG Bell promotes the use of spoken language and hearing technology. AG Bell financial aid offers support and resources for people of all ages that have suffered hearing loss. It also offers a comprehensive list of other organizations that offer free or financial assistance for hearing technology, such as hearing aids and TTY technology.

For more information contact:
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
3417 Volta Place NW
Washington, DC 2007
202-337-5220 V
202-337-5221 TTY
202-337- 8314 Fax
E-mail: info@agbell.org


Reduced Cost Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) for Vets and Family Members

Williams Sound, a global manufacturer of wireless listening technology for more than 30 years, has teamed with the Military Audiology Association to offer a Rald™ program to retired and active-duty military service members and their families. The Rald™ program was created to provide these veterans and service men and women access to assistive listening devices (ALDs) at a 20% saving over retail cost, along with free personalized telephone support.

ALDs are devices to help individuals with hearing difficulties hear more clearly in a wide array of social situations, whether those needs are specific to listening on the phone, to a television, in a group setting or during one-on-one conversations. An ALD is designed to pick up sounds from the sound source and bring it directly to the listener's ear, without the distraction of background noise.

For more information visit: http://info@williamssound.com
 Or call - Barb Cleland
Williams Sound LLC
10300 Valley 'View Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344