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Change comes to hearing aid market due to big box stores, Internet sales and technological advances

Times Free Press, Chattanooga, TN
by Tim Omarzu
December 27th, 2015

Change is the new normal for the U.S. hearing aid industry.

The majority of hearing aids are still sold at brick-and-mortar stores by independent hearing aid dispensers and audiologists, and by large hearing aid chains and franchises.

Hamilton County is home to nine hearing instrument specialists and 19 audiologists with active licenses, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Neighboring counties in Tennessee have 10 audiologists and five hearing instrument specialists.

But big box retailers, Internet sales and technological advances are making inroads in the industry.

Local audiology businesses say they provide personalized service and help those with hearing problems find the right equipment. Although consumers can buy cheaper hearing aids online, hearing aid providers say, they may not be the right type or fitted properly without some expert advice. Hearing tests also can uncover medical conditions that cause hearing loss, they say, from ear wax build-up to serious problems.

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Better Hearing Consumer

If you had only 5 minutes to make a difference in the life of a stranger, how would you use it?

If, in an unexpected moment, a person whose daily world is not connected to yours, has opened themselves up and is ready to embrace your words, because, somehow, they know what you’re offering is something they need—what would you say?

Five minutes, a fleeting blip in a person’s lifespan, that’s all the time you’ve got.

If I were to meet a stranger—in a highway travel rest stop, let’s say, with picnic tables by a river—who has signaled confusion and frustration with their hearing loss (or worse, the intent to donothing about it), and whose bus is leaving in 5 minutes, I hope I would say, “Do you have a moment to chat, here by the river?”

How would I compress a lifetime of learning to live with hearing loss into a few seconds? But I only have one shot with this stranger, and the bus’s running motor reminds me how little time we have, so I would try:

I have hearing loss too and here’s what has worked for me.  Maybe it will work for you, too.

Admit It.  Be honest about your hearing loss.  Don’t try to hide it.  Your secret grieving for the way things used to be won’t bring back the sounds.  If you don’t admit it to yourself and others, things may only get worse.   Being open about your  . . .

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Submit Nominations for White House Champions for Change
The White House Champions of Change program highlights the stories and examples of citizens across the country who are “Building an America to Last” with projects and initiatives that move their communities forward.  All across the country, ordinary Americans are doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.  Each week, The White House invites Champions of Change share their ideas and to empower and inspire other members of their communities.  This year’s Transportation Champions of Change will focus on “Transportation Technology Solutions for the 21stCentury.   The deadline for submitting nominations is Thursday, March 28, 2013: Click Here for Nomination Process

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