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How to Select a Hearing Aids


ODHHS Information and Technical Assistance Series
 
 
How to Select a Hearing Aids
(Source: Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.)
 
 
 
The Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. has some advice for people experiencing a hearing loss and searching for a hearing aid device--select an aid from a company that will provide you with maximum assistance.
 
"In selecting a hearing aid, you should not be overly influenced by the price or the appearance of the aid," said James L. Bast, president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. "An inexpensive hearing aid of poor quality is of no use, yet a high-priced aid that seems inconspicuous will have little value if it does not amplify sound adequately to suit your needs." Nationwide BBBs field more than 12,000 inquiries and 500 complaints on hearing aid companies each year.
 
You can purchase your hearing aid from either an audiologist, a nonphysician specialist with a degree in measurement and treatment of hearing impairment, or a hearing-aid dealer. Most physicians have audiologists on staff or can refer you to audiologists with whom they have worked.
 
In some areas, particularly rural ones, there may be no audiologist available so you may need to go directly to a hearing aid dealer. If you go to a dealer, make sure he or she is licensed or registered and check to see that the dealer is certified by the National Board for Certification of Hearing Instrument Sciences.
 
Whether you use an audiologist or a hearing-aid dealer, you need someone who will work with you over several visits to find the right hearing aid, teach you to use and maintain it and then be available to service it in the months and years to come.
 
In addition to these basic precautions, the BBB suggests a few additional steps you can take to find a reputable, skilled hearing-aid dealer or good audiologist.
  • Avoid those who sell only one type or brand of hearing aid. No manufacturer makes an aid that's right for everyone.
  • Make sure the hearing aid dispenser offers at least a 30-day trial period for the hearing aid and services the aids that he or she sells.
  • Find out exactly what's included in the price. Some dispensers charge separately for the hearing aid and the fitting; some will quote an all-in-one price.
  • Watch out for excessive and nonrefundable fees. Some hearing aid dispensers may charge a "restocking fee" or a "dispensing fee" analogous to the dealer surcharges added on to some new cars.
  • Know whether the warranty is honored by the manufacturer or by the dispenser.
 
Consumers can obtain additional tips by ordering the BBB publication "Tips On... Hearing Aids (#07-24-247) from their local Better Business Bureau. Copies can be ordered by mail from the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (enclose a $2.00 check for postage and handling and a self-addressed, business-sized envelope to CBBB, Department 023, Washington, DC 20042-0023).
 
You may wish to contact the International Hearing Aid Society, at 20361 Middlebelt, in Livonia, Michigan 48152 to determine if the hearing aid dispenser is a member, The American Speech-Language Hearing Association, at 10801 Rockville Pike, in Rockville, Maryland 20852, to determine if the clinical audiologist is a member and holds clinical certification, or the Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (FAAA), earned and issued through the American Academy of Audiology and state licensure as indicators of competency and consumer protection.