Manchaiah, V.
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Group, 3(7), 5-11. doi:10.1044/persp3.SIG7.5
Publication year: 2018

Abstract

Hearing loss is a serious public health epidemic that can have physical, mental, and social consequences for those affected and their significant others. Amplification devices, such as hearing aids, can be useful to facilitate hearing, communication, and social life for people with hearing loss. However, studies in the western world show that only 1 in 4 people with hearing loss own hearing aids. This low uptake could be due to many reasons, including accessibility and affordability of hearing devices. In the current decade, various types of direct-to-consumer hearing devices (DCHDs) have come on the market, which have the potential to improve accessibility and affordability of hearing health care services substantially. These devices are modern looking, less costly than in previous decades, and easier to purchase as there is no requirement for professional consultation. However, this approach may have some limitations as many devices may not meet the strict electroacoustic criteria required for hearing aids. This article aims to (a) define DCHDs and provide an update on the legislation on over-the-counter hearing devices, (b) provide a summary of literature on DCHDs for people with hearing loss, and (c) discuss the risks and benefits associated with DCHDs for people with hearing loss.