Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Challenge Is On! - May 4 deadline

The Challenge Is On!
HLAA Montgomery County MD Chapter Issues a Challenge…for the 4th Year!

The HLAA Montgomery County, Maryland Chapter issues a challenge to all Chapters and State associations to help bring more people to HLAA’s Convention 2012.

If you have been to an HLAA Convention, you know it is an event not to be missed. However, there are people who really want to go, but need financial support to get there.

For the fourth consecutive year, HLA-Montgomery County MD Chapter (HLA-MC) is again issuing a challenge to Chapters and State associations to send donations (in increments of $500) to the HLAA Chapter Challenge fund to help send as many people to Convention 2012 as possible. HLAA National received 24 applications and has awarded 11 scholarships from the following: Rocky Stone Endowment (1), Starkey Hearing Technologies (6), Bob Branigin Fund (2), HLAA’s Boston (Hear@Boston) Chapter (2) and HLAA’s Montgomery County Chapter (1). We need 13 more scholarships! Let’s see what we can do to bring all of them to Convention 2012!

HLA of MC originated the Challenge by giving $500 of their proceeds from the Washington DC Walk4Hearing® to the convention scholarship fund. That first year, everyone who applied for a scholarship received one. The idea caught on! We hope Chapters and State associations with funds from the HLAA Walk4Hearing® or other fundraisers will consider financing a scholarship.

Members remembering their first convention experience know this a life-changing experience. It is an opportunity to absorb information and education to live better with hearing loss, to grow personally and professionally, to socialize with other people with hearing loss, to experience cutting-edge technology, and to attend workshops accessible with CART and assistive listening systems.

Each scholarship recipient will receive a full-activity registration package. Please take the challenge and let us know you accept by May 4, 2012. Checks should be sent to HLAA, Attn: Nancy Macklin, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Hope to see you in June!

The Steering Committee
HLA Montgomery County (MD) Chapter
Bethesda, Maryland

Friday, April 20, 2012

IRS Form 990 Due By May 15

Is your Chapter or State organization due to submit a 990 soon?

The IRS requires all nonprofits to file 990 tax forms, and most HLAA Chapters and State organizations must file by May 15. (Some are required to file by October 15.) This regulation mostly impacts small nonprofits with budgets under $25,000 — they now must file a 990 form — previously they were not required to do so.

2007 federal legislation required most tax exempt organizations with annual revenues under $25,000 to begin filing a brief form of the IRS 990 annual return - known as the 990N or the "e-postcard'. Previously these groups had been exempted from annual filing requirements.

Compliance is relatively easy - the filing is done electronically and links to more information, an explanation of the requirement, the form itself, and frequently asked questions, are on the IRS website (

The information required is limited to eight items:
1. Employer identification number (EIN), also known as a Taxpayer
Identification Number (TIN).
2. Tax year
3. Legal name and mailing address
4. Any other names the organization uses
5. Name and address of a principal officer
6. Web site address if the organization has one
7. Confirmation that the organization's annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less
8. If applicable, a statement that the organization has terminated or is terminating (going out of business)

In 2011, the IRS revoked the tax exempt status of 15 HLAA Chapters for failing to file the form  three years in a row. These revoked chapters must submit a lengthy form and pay a fine in order to regain their tax exemption.

Please file your organization's form now while you are thinking about it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chapter and State Workshops Schedule Posted

The schedule of workshops specifically for HLAA Chapters and State organizations is now available on the HLAA website. Click here to see the schedule. New this year are "office hours;" 15-minute, one-on-one sessions with me to discuss an idea, get feedback or ask questions. Please schedule your time as soon as possible - there are only 5 spots available!

Not registered yet for Convention? There's still time! Click here to sign up!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

AWARDS Due by April 11; Report from Bethesda - March

Hello, Chapter and State leaders and coordinators!

Reminder: 2012 Awards Nominations are due by April 11, next Wednesday. For a list of award descriptions and nomination forms, click here.

Report from Bethesda is from HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat for HLAA state and chapter leaders. The report highlights activities of the national office thought to be of interest to members. Please share all or part of this report in your newsletters, websites, and at your monthly meetings. Also, please include any news you print from this report with the following statement:

This information is provided by the national organization of the Hearing Loss Association of America. For more information about HLAA national advocacy and public policy work, Hearing Loss Magazine, HLAA e-News, annual conventions, the Walk4Hearing, and more, go to
Report from Bethesda –March 2012
Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)

News Flash
The Hearing Loss Magazine is now online! This is a great new benefit for our HLAA members. You can read it on mobile devices or on your computers before it arrives in mailboxes. There is no need to miss it when you away on business or vacation because it is always there for real time-reference and enjoyment. You will still receive the printed magazine; this is just an additional benefit for members. The magazine is accessed through the HLAA Online Portal.
You're Invited to Sign-Up for HLAA's Online Portal, It's free!
Whether you want to opt-in to receive the HLAA e-News, maintain your membership information, or register for the HLAA Convention --it can all be done through the HLAA Online Portal.

All you need to do is find the “Login” button on the right-hand side of the homepage of create a User ID and Password. Once your login has been created, you can edit your record anytime.

If you already receive Hearing Loss Magazine or the online HLAA e-News, it doesn’t mean that you automatically have a login for the HLAA Online Portal.

Through the HLAA Online Portal you can:

. See the latest issue of Hearing Loss Magazine before it hits your mailbox (HLAA members only). Note: you will still receive the printed magazine in the mail.

· Choose what types of messages you want to receive from us.

· Update your email and mailing address and phone number.

· If you are a member, view your membership information such as the expiration date.

· Review your donation history and get receipts.

· Register for HLAA Convention 2012, courses and training.

· And there will be more to come.

If you’re reading this and are not a member of HLAA and would like to become a member, you can do so online at, or by calling 301.657-2248.

State and Chapter Development
The HLAA California State Association held a successful conference in Oakland, February 17 and 18, 2012, with 120 people attending. A leadership training workshop attended by 35 California chapter leaders was conducted by Mary Clark (NM) and assisted by HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat who also was the speaker at the Opening Session. Workshops were divided into tracks: Parents, and Managing Hearing Loss and Technology. Thirty vendors exhibited. Awards were given to John Waldo, Esq. (WA), Linda Drattell (CA) and Rick Rutherford (CA) for their successful outcome in the Cinemark lawsuit that led to a big step forward in securing captioning in movie theaters.

The Manhattan Chapter held a Children’s Hearing Summit March 10, 2012, at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. This was an age-specific seminar for parents of children with hearing loss. Collaborators were Weill C. Cornell Medical College, HLA NY State Association, Children’s Hearing Institute, Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, the Center for Hearing and Communication and the Westchester (NY) HLAA Chapter. Thirty parents attended and were given the information they need to help their children succeed.

This spring, HLAA and the Montgomery County (MD) HLAA Chapter are sponsoring a ten-week Speechreading and Communication Strategies course at national headquarters in Bethesda. This beginner’s course covers the basics of speechreading as well as critical communication strategies needed to enhance communication for individuals with hearing loss and their spouses. Dr. Scott J. Bally, HLAA consultant for aural rehabilitation is teaching the course which filled up quickly. Dr. Bally recently retired after 33 years at Gallaudet University and co-authored the world’s best-selling book on speechreading, Speechreading: A Way to improve Understanding. Additional courses will be offered as long as there is continuing interest within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Audio Looped Performance
HLAA organized an audio looped performance at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Voices of Light, performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This is an oratorio composed by Richard Einhorn to accompany Theodor Dreyer’s silent movie The Passion of Joan of Arc. This year is the 700 anniversary of Joan of Arc’s birth and the piece is being performed all over the world. Richard Einhorn is a member of HLAA and the Manhattan (NYC) Chapter who lost his hearing suddenly. Some HLAA Board members took advantage of being in town for the spring board meeting in Bethesda to attend as well as other HLAA-area members who enjoyed being able to hear through the loop. A reception with the composer and HLAA-invited guests followed the concert. Richard Einhorn will be featured on the cover of the May/June Hearing Loss Magazine.

HLAA Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island
June 21-24, Register at

HLAA is pleased to announce that Dave Myers, Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker at the Opening Session. Many know Dr. Myers from the 2nd International Hearing Loop Conference held in 2011. A social psychologist at Hope College, Dr. Myers is the author of 17 books, which include psychology textbooks and A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss. He is the creator of and, since 2002, the author of 30 articles which advocate assistive listening that is directly hearing-aid-compatible.

As previously advertised, Howard Weinsten was to be the keynote speaker but due to unforeseen circumstances he will not be able to travel to the United States in June.

Leadership Training
The HLAA Leadership Training will be held October 5-7, 2012, in Bethesda, Maryland. Applications will be distributed soon. Please let chapters in your area know about the training so that they can start thinking about new and potential chapter/state leaders who might apply. The training is for leaders and potential leaders who have not had the benefit of leadership training in the past. The training is two-and-a-half days with all expenses covered.

HLAA Advocacy Activity
HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat was invited to do two workshops on assistive technology (hearing loops) “Beyond the Hearing Aid” for members of the Elite Hearing Network (EHN) at their Business Summit in Maui, Hawaii, January 9-– 12, 2012. The EHN’s parent company is Amplifon, a hearing aid manufacturer based in Italy. The Summit brought together hearing aid manufacturers plus audiologists and hearing aid specialists in private practice or non-profit clinics to provide the most up-to-date information on hearing technology and business practices. Some 900 people attended which made this a good opportunity to network and to represent consumers and their needs.

HLAA has collected examples of federal employment policies that put up barriers to hiring for people with hearing loss to present to the Office of Personnel Management. HLAA staff was successful in getting the Department of Justice to change its testing requirements so that employees may now wear their hearing aids when being tested for hearing loss. We are advocating for other agencies to follow the same qualification testing practices. To view HLAA policy statement on qualification testing go to the page where our policy statements are housed., then scroll down to Job Qualification Testing.

The Ida Institute is an independent, non-profit organization that works to foster a better understanding of the human dynamics associated with hearing loss. On March 29, 2012, at the American Academy of Audiology, Audiology Now conference in Boston, the Oticon Foundation and the Ida Institute launched a global initiative to find innovative ideas to inspire action and raise public awareness for hearing loss. The global online competition to solicits world-changing ideas to raise awareness of hearing loss and encourage persons with hearing loss to take action and live life to the fullest.

HLAA accepted the invitation from the Ida Institute to be a member of the VIP selection committee of the competition to select the winners of the ideas to increase awareness about hearing loss.

The Challenge: More than 250 million people worldwide have hearing loss. Yet all previous attempts to raise awareness about hearing loss have not had a great impact. The press and the public have not been captured by initiatives to generate broad public awareness.

The Goal: The idea competition is designed to involve hearing care professionals, students, patients, families and the general public in a joint effort to create ideas that can raise awareness for hearing loss. The idea competition runs from March 2012 to April 2013. Post, share and comment on project ideas by visiting

March 16, 2012, was the effective date for the Department of Justice’s 2010 Standards for Accessible Design in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The original standards were revised setting a minimum – both scoping and technical – to ensure that public accommodations, commercial facilities, and state and local governments are accessible to people with disabilities including people with hearing loss. New standards impacting communication access include new requirements for assistive listening systems, visual alarms, hotel access and TTYs (already obsolete). The following is a brief summary of the key standards that impact people with hearing loss:

Section 219 requires assistive listening systems in spaces where communication is integral to the space and audio amplification is provided, and in courtrooms.

Section 219 required percentage of receivers declines as the size of the facility increases. Required are at least 25 percent, but no fewer than two, of the receivers to be hearing aid compatible – (for example neck loops and silhouettes). Assembly areas with an induction loop will not have to provide hearing aid compatible receivers.

Assistive listening systems are required to have standard mono jacks. Also specify sound pressure level, signal to noise ratio and peak clipping level.

Assembly areas must post signs at each auditorium to inform patrons that ALS are available.

Section 224 and 806: Guest rooms with communication features much be equipped with a fire alarm system that includes permanently installed audible and visible alarms in accordance with the NRPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code

To view the new standards go to The standards will be covered in more detail in the Director of Public Policy Lise Hamlin’s column in the May/June 2012 Hearing Loss Magazine. We are delighted that many of HLAA’s recommendations have been incorporated into the new regulations.

HLAA’s Comments on the United HealthCare Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aid ProgramUnited HealthCare® introduced a low-cost, direct-to-consumer hearing aid benefit program hi HealthInnovations. HLAA’s position on this new development is being frowned upon by audiologists and hearing aid specialists. Some hearing aid manufacturers are also receiving complaints from their hearing health care network and therefore have to reconsider their support of HLAA.

The HLAA response to concerns we receive about this issue is in the letter that follows. The letter was also sent to chapter and state leaders so that they know our position should they hear concerns from hearing health care providers in their communities. This letter is also on under HLAA Updates on the home page.

Message to Audiologists, Hearing Aid Specialists, Hearing Aid ManufacturersBy Brenda Battat, HLAA Executive DirectorThank you for expressing your concerns about the direct to consumer United HealthCare® hi HealthInnovations program.

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) has not joined audiologists, hearing aid specialists, and hearing aid manufacturers in their opposition to the new United HealthCare direct service to consumers. Our stance is to give innovative programs such as this one a chance. Why are we saying this?

Hearing loss is a leading public health concern with 17 percent of American adults (36 million) reporting being affected. Left untreated, especially among seniors, hearing loss impacts a person’s overall health, leading to conditions such as social isolation, depression, and possibly dementia. Yet, fewer than 20 percent of people with hearing loss seek treatment and obtain hearing aids. While there are a number of reasons for lack of attention to this condition, the primary barrier is the cost of hearing health care services and especially hearing aids. It is certainly the most common call that comes into the HLAA office each day; the number one page visited on the HLAA website is how to get financial help to purchase a hearing aid; and the number one advocacy priority that emerged from surveys conducted as part of the recent HLAA Board of Trustees strategic planning process was to focus on accessible and affordable hearing health care.

Then there are the hidden costs of hearing loss and lack of access to hearing health care. Making it easier to seek help and afford hearing aids is a way to manage the total quality of life and the health care costs of millions of people with hearing loss. We need to open more doors and lower the hurdles to seeking and receiving hearing health care. There has been a paradigm shift with more options for hearing screenings via mobile apps, the Internet and development of innovative screening tools. Consumers are handling their own health care, including hearing health care, in different ways taking more control. We expect in the future to see software developed for people to make programming adjustments to their hearing aids and cochlear implants.

The Hearing Loss Association of America agrees that face-to-face interaction with a health care professional to obtain personalized fitting of hearing aids as well as follow up services is the ideal situation. However, this approach operates as burden for a vast majority of adults with hearing loss who simply do not seek treatment. The cost factor is one major burden. In addition, the existing societal stigma means that a large number of these individuals simply may be more comfortable screening their hearing proficiency in the privacy of their homes. In this day and age, it is very common for people to assess their health care needs by doing online research and self-evaluation before visiting a health care professional.

The online hearing test offered by UnitedHealthcare’s hi HealthInnovations is likely to provide an entry point to treatment for individuals with hearing loss who avoid going directly to a hearing health care professional. Once these people see the results of the online test, many will take further action to address their hearing loss. This applies both to those who are found to be candidates for the open-fit hearing aids for which the hi HealthInnovations program is designed and for those who are advised that their hearing condition requires personalized care and treatment. In fact, individuals who are deemed unsuitable candidates by the test are specifically referred to an audiologist within or outside the United HealthCare network. Increasing the number of people who seek treatment for their hearing loss either under the program or by other means is clearly a positive outcome for consumers.

The HLAA Board of Trustees met and reviewed the information on the UHC/HI program in interaction with Dr. Lisa Tseng, CEO, hi HealthInnovations, and concluded that alternative delivery models and options are needed for some people who would otherwise not seek the services of a hearing professional. HLAA has always encouraged consumers to work closely with a hearing health care professional they trust as the best way to become a successful hearing aid user and will continue to do so. However, because of the multitude of approaches available to consumers to address their specific health care needs today and because not all individuals will need the same level of care HLAA is recommending caution with trying to shut down innovative models that might be a viable alternative for some people.