November and December HLAA KC Events

We’ve got some great events lined up for November and December.  We hope that you join us for these events and bring a friend or two!

November Social Event – Come volunteer at Harvesters the evening of Wednesday November 9th from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  As the area’s only food bank, Harvesters is a clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of food and related household products.  We will be helping out by sorting food and household goods collected from food drives and donated by the food industry.

Plan on arriving between 5:30 and 6:00 pm to grab some dinner before volunteering from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Since we will be providing dinner, please let us know if you plan on attending.  See additional details/map here: Harvesters Event Information.

November Meeting – Join us on Saturday November 12th for our November HLAA-KC meeting at 10:30am at the Plaza Library, the Large Meeting Room.  We will announce the presentation topic closer to the date.

Our annual HLAA-KC Holiday Party will be on Saturday December 3rd from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. at Carinos at the Legends!  Consider doing some shopping out at the Legends that day and then stop by to see us.

If you have any questions regarding any of the above events email us at hlaakc@gmail.com.

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A great article about hearing loops

I came across a great article about inductive hearing loops in America, mentioning famed composer Richard Einhorn’s struggle with how difficult it was to be able to enjoy theatre and musicals with inferior assistive device systems.  Hearing loops provided the clarity and enjoyment he so desired.

(Note: New York Times has limited access to their articles online, so the link may ask you to sign up for a subscription, or tell you have temporary access to their articles).

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/science/24loops.html?_r=2&hpw

HEARAid Gala 2011

There’s a fantastic fundraiser set for November 18 at the Hyatt Regency/Crown Center presented by the Midwest Ear Institute.  HEARAid Gala 2011 “The Best of Broadway” features a night of Tony Award winning songs produced by Anthony Edwards.

The night is to fundraise to assist programs like the “Ear That Hear” service that assists Midwest Ear Institute patients who cannot afford services or whose insurance does not cover services or equipment for children or adults who are deaf, hard of hearing or who experience balance disorders.

The evening consists of a reception, silent auction, a dinner prepared by Chef Frank Majowicz, and a live auction.  Once that’s all done, then the musical revue begins.

Tickets can be purchased or donations can be made online at http://www.saintlukesgiving.org/HEARAid.  If you have questions about HEARAid, you can reach Irwin Herrero at 816-932-1660.

I think it’s important to support the community with charities and foundations like this to enable everyone to reach their full potential no matter what financial or health barriers they have.  Low income families and families without insurance have a difficult time getting equipment like hearing aids when they are needed by children with hearing loss.

October Social – Coffee and Chat Night!

Our October social is coming up! You are invited to join us at the Black Dog Coffeehouse (12815 W 87th St. Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66215) on Monday, Oct. 24, from 7pm-9pm. We’ll just hang out, grab a cup of joe (or tea or hot chocolate or an Italian soda or a scone or…) and get to know each other better. It’s a great and informal way to meet new friends and learn a little bit more about HLAA-KC!

This event is open to the public, so feel free to bring a friend or 12 – the more the merrier!

Hope to see you there!

Free workshop for parents of deaf/hard of hearing children

Hands & Voices, a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families and their children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as the professionals who serve them, is hosting a workshop for parents of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind children.

Karen Putz, parent and co-founder of Illinois Chapter of Hands & Voices will be the speaker.

There is a session in St. Louis on November 12, 2011, and a session in Kansas City on November 13, 2011.

The Kansas City session will be held at the Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center, 3101 Main Street, from 2-4 pm Sunday afternoon. To register for this free workshop, please call Larry Hoard at 573.592.2543 (voice) or email him at larry.hoard@msd.dese.mo.gov.

See flyer for more information.   Missouri Parents Working Together Workshop

New Benefit for HLAA Members

HLAA National recently announced the addition of a new benefit for HLAA members — discounts from American Hearing Benefits (AHB). If you are a member, you can start reaping these rewards immediately!

Some of the benefits you could receive are:

  • Free annual hearing screenings for you and your immediate family
  • Referrals to AHB’s network of recommended local hearing health care professionals
  • Advanced hearing solutions with the latest in hearing aid technology
  • Up to 60% off suggested retail prices
  • Free full two-year extended warranty with every purchase

You can read more about this new benefit, and see all of the others you receive, here.

Not an HLAA member? Consider becoming one today to enjoy all of these benefits yourself! There are two easy ways to become a member. Sign up online here, or fill out the PDF form below and mail it in. We look forward to seeing you!

HLAA Membership Form

 

Speechreading webinar

Event: Reading Faces: An Introduction to Speechreading
Description: Speechreading is a skill that improves with practice
Host: Patricia Tomczyszyn
When: Thursday 27 October 2011, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Time Zone: (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Some people may be naturally better at it, just as some people have a knack for carpentry or music. But all people with hearing loss, whether congenital or acquired, can learn to be a better speechreader, for better communication. Speechreading is a bit like a puzzle.  What do I see on her face? What do I hear her saying? What’s the subject we’re discussing? Put it all together and – eureka!  This all happens almost without our realizing it, and the more we practice, the better we get.

This webinar will also include information on speechreading courses and ideas for practice in everyday life. Participants should have a small mirror available to practice lip movements during the course of the webinar.

To register for this event, please go the following link: http://hearinglossassociation.adobeconnect.com/oct-2011/event/registration.html

——————–
This webinar uses Adobe Connect. If you’ve never used Adobe Connect, get a quick overview here: http://www.adobe.com/go/connectpro_overview
Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat and Adobe Connect are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

Better Hearing Technology Presentations to be held in Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City, Oakley and Hays Kansas

STATE PROGRAMS TAKE TO THE ROAD TO SHARE INFORMATION ON BETTER HEARING TECHNOLOGY

Topeka, KS, September 15, 2011 – Three State administered programs are partnering up to present a free workshop. The Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH), the Kansas Telecommunications Access Program (TAP) and the Kansas Relay Center powered by Hamilton Relay are collaborating to offer a workshop to provide resources and information about a variety of technologies designed to assist those that have difficulty hearing. The workshops will be presented over four days, October 10 -13 in five different locations across Western Kansas including Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City, Oakley, and Hays. The workshop will cover what technology is available, who can benefit from each device, where to shop for the devices and even how to get some items at no cost. The goal is to educate Kansans so they can make informed decisions to maintain or even improve their quality of life.

It is estimated that 10% of the US population have difficulty hearing. That is nearly 300,000 Kansans. Programs like KCDHH, TAP and Hamilton provide information and resources that many struggle to find or are embarrassed to seek out. Topics covered during the workshop will include; hearing aids, signaling devices, telephones and assistive listening devices. Individuals with hearing loss, family members and professionals are encouraged to attend.

The Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is a state agency authorized to develop and implement a program of information and referral, advocacy, public education and direct services. The mission of KCDHH is to advocate for and facilitate equal access to quality, coordinated and comprehensive services that enhance the quality of life for Kansans who are deaf and hard of hearing.

BETTER HEARING TECHNOLOGY
The Kansas Telecommunications Access Program is a telecommunication equipment distribution program. The purpose of TAP is to provide specialized telephone equipment to Kansans with disabilities in order that they can access basic telecommunication services. Individuals with a hearing loss or other disability can apply and receive free equipment if they have established Kansas residency, have telephone service at their home/residence, have a disability that impedes the use of a standard telephone, and have a household income less than $55,000 per year.

Hamilton Relay operates the Kansas Relay Center. Hamilton Relay has been providing telecommunications relay services for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing and speech disabled since 1991. Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) is free 24-hour service that provides equal communication access via the phone to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled. Hamilton Relay provides Traditional Relay in numerous contracted states, as well as Captioned Telephone (CapTel®), Web and Mobile CapTel and Internet Relay services across the nation.

Specific Workshop times and locations are:

October 10, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. October 11, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Pratt Public Library Dodge City Senior Center
401 South Jackson St 2408 Central Ave
Pratt, KS Dodge City, KS

October 11, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. October 12, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Senior Center of Finney County NW Kansas Educational Service Center
907 N 10th 703 West 2nd
Garden City, KS Oakley, KS

October 13, 9:00 – Noon
Hays Public Library
1205 Main St
Hays, KS

BETTER HEARING TECHNOLOGY
For additional information please contact any of the following or to request special accommodations such as interpreters, or real-time captioning for any of the sessions:

Tim Anderson
Kansas Telecommunications Access Program
4848 SW 21st St, Ste 201
Topeka, KS 66604
785-234-0200
tap@kstelecom.com

Cady Lear
Hamilton Relay
4848 SW 21st St, Ste 201
Topeka, KS 66604
785-228-5666
Cady.lear@hamiltonrelay.com

Rebecca Rosenthal
Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Docking State Office Building, 9th Floor North
915 SW Harrison
Topeka, KS 66612
785-246-5077
Rebecca.Rosenthal@srs.ks.gov

HLAA’s Continued Fight for Hearing Aid Coverage

For some time now, I have been learning more about hearing aid coverage, a controversial topic that I am interested in, especially since it has been coming up in several instances through HLAA at the national and community level.  I want to share with our readers some of the things that HLAA has been doing to help bring more awareness to this issue. Also, to share what resources are available for us to use to help lessen the financial repercussions that come from paying for services related to your hearing health and/or from the purchase of a hearing aid or aids.

As many of you may already know, HLAA continues to be an avid fighter for hearing aid coverage – to get hearing aid benefits and hearing aids covered by insurance providers. Thus, I would like to highlight a few things about what HLAA and our community has been doing to advocate for hearing aid coverage.  One way to stay on top of what HLAA is doing to advocate for hearing aid coverage/benefits at the national level, you can watch for the latest news here.

In our Community: Recently, a public forum on Medicaid Reform took place on August 17th, 2011 in Overland Park and one topic that came up at the forum was insurance coverage for hearing aids.  This was the final meeting, with interpreters presented so that the deaf and hard of hearing people of Kansas could participate.  Governor Sam Brownback asked Lt. Governor Jeff Coyler help remake the state’s Medicaid program and improve healthcare.   So in an effort to improve the program, Coyler asked the people of Kansas to share their ideas and suggestions.  The D/HH community brought up several issues that they wished to see addressed during the year.  An issue focused on by the D/HH, and particularly with HLAA, was to see more insurance coverage for hearing aids.  Currently, the problem is while cochlear implants are often covered by insurance, hearing aids lack the support.

At National Level:  HLAA has been pushing for insurance coverage on hearing aids as part of federal health plans.  As of now, coverage of hearing aids for adults is included in several Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) insurance plans but is not a requirement for other insurers, especially for private ones.  The next step is to watch for other carriers to begin coverage on hearing aids.  Since the FEHB program is a leading model in insurance, there is hope that other insurance companies will follow.  The good news is that there are several states that require health benefit plans include coverage of hearing aids for children.  Unfortunately, only a few states require hearing aid coverage for adults.  Each state has varying requirements for the amount and ages covered.

To see if your state is covered, check the ‘State Hearing Health Insurance Mandates’ list.  Missouri made the list. Unfortunately, Kansas is not on the list yet.  However, with the recent Medicaid Reform public reform that took place in August 2011 in Overland Park, Kansas’s outlook looks more positive.  After all, to date, eighteen states have passed legislation on coverage for hearing aids, so more states are sure to add insurance for them in health benefit plans.

My Thoughts… & Some Great Reads from our last 2 Hearing Loss Issues (July/Aug & Sept/Oct): A plethora of information related to hearing aids can be found in any of our Hearing Loss magazines if you want to learn more. In our last two bi-monthly issues, I noticed that HLAA has been trying increase awareness on why hearing aid coverage continues to be a problem.  HLAA needs the help of our hearing loss community.  You can help advocate for change at national, state or individual level. At individual level, you could be presenting your case to your employer on why hearing aid coverage is a necessary benefit that needs to be included in health benefit plans.

In the last 3 months, I learned that there are alternative routes that we could consider giving a try if hearing aid coverage is not included in our health benefits plan.  **Did you know that your employer may possibly be able to help cover some of the cost that you have to pay for your hearing aids/services?** I’ll be honest with you here though-I haven’t seen anything about this “written in stone” but I know that there are some employers that may be willing to make an exception.  A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is generally said that, ‘As long it does not cause any undue financial hardship on your company,’ then it could be worth asking.  After all this can actually be considered an accommodation that is needed in order for you to be successful in your job!

**On HLAA’s website, there is a Workplace page which includes an Employment Toolkit on how you can present a case for health care coverage of hearing aids to your employer.**

Wrapping up…: I want to share a few articles and summaries that I found useful from our last two Issues:

1) In our July/August 2011 Issue:

  • Our Executive Director provided a great summary on HLAA’s “Campaign to Make Hearing Aids Affordable.” (p.6) Wow! I had no idea how much HLAA was doing to help make Hearing Aids more affordable for us!  Thank you!
  • HLAA staff spent a day on Capitol Hill advocating for the Hearing Aid Tax Credit Legislation. (p.30) Oh wait, what is the Hearing Aid Tax Credit? I had no idea! All these years of doing my taxes… and I never included this? How does it work? Why don’t you find out more about this on your own? Call it a mini homework assignment from me (Hint-Google it! ;-))

2) In our September/October 2011 Issue:

  • HearingAid Costs: “Unbundling: A Way to Make Hearing Aids More Affordable?” (p.18) This article offers insight into hearing care billing practices and the relationshipbetween expert services and the success of hearing aid fitting. Boy, where was this information when I really needed it?! Well, the good news is that it’s available now so don’t let it slip through your fingers!
  • HearingAid Features: “Decibels and Dollars: A Look at Hearing Aid Features Across Price Points.” (p.30) Brad Ingrao writes about six hearing aid manufacturers to give you an idea what features you can expect at various price points. After all… knowledge is power, right?  So be sure to do your research! 🙂
  • Insurance: “Making Hearing Aids Affordable.” (p.34) **(HOT! HOT! Fresh off the press!)**  Our director of public policy looks at ways to pay for hearing aids. There’s a good chance that your employee health care benefits plan does not cover the cost of hearing aids, but the reason may be simply because no one thought to include it.  It pays to ask.  Earlier, I mentioned that one way that you can get started is to check out HLAA’s free Employment Toolkit on how you can present a case for health care coverage of hearing aids to your employer.

Additional resources:

  • More information on Medicaid Reform Public Forum is available on The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website.
  • Hearing Health Care – Hearing Aids;Medicare/Medicaid; State Insurance Laws.
  • HLAA has a page on Hearing Aids if you’re looking to purchase hearing aids with sections on ‘Introduction to Hearing Aids; Features; Selecting a Hearing Aid and What to Ask when Purchasing a Hearing Aid’.