Advocacy

The secret of getting things done is to act!
Dante

While HLAA’s chapters are concerned with improving conditions for people with hearing loss in their communities, our State Association seeks: 

  1. to assure access to communications consistent with the Americans With Disability Act, other federal statutes and regulations and comparable state law; 
  2. to promote best practices and person-centered care by audiologists and other dispensers of hearing aids; and 
  3. to foster, under state auspices, a statewide program of advocacy and education to ensure continuity of services to persons who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing and the delivery of direct services to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This is the mission of the HLAA NYS Advocacy and Legislative Committee.  All members of HLAA who live in New York State are eligible to join the Committee. 

We seek volunteers able and willing to reach out to their state senators and assembly members and other state government officials and those with writing and editorial skills who can help draft white papers on key issues and sample letters.  Those interested should email Committee Chair Jerry Bergman at jerbergman1@me.com.  

Our philosophy is that hearing loss has diminished our ability to hear but not our voices.  To the extent possible, we hope to combine our efforts with advocates for the deaf and other advocates for the rights of people with disabilities.

These initiatives have been approved by the State Board:

  1. Pursuit of a state agency (department, division, commission or office) of the deaf and hard of hearing, such as exists in approximately 38 states.
  2. Pursuit of strengthening the regulations, adopted in 2001, mandating that audiologists and hearing aid dispensers provide information regarding telecoils for assistive listening to all hearing aid recipients and provide telecoil training for all consumers who are given hearing aids containing telecoils.  Our view is that such counseling must be mandated prior to hearing aid purchasing and that the regulations be revised to require initialization or signature on the bill of sale by both the audiologist/dispenser and the consumer to specifically indicate that the hearing instrument dispensed does or does not contain a telecoil.
  3. Pursuit of a state law to require that cinemas present movies with open captions at certain times, but at least once each week in daytime, evening and on weekends.  [This initiative is currently postponed until such time as moviegoing resumes and the state’s cinemas have returned to economic viability.]   
  4. Pursuit of a strengthened state ordinance requiring that all TV monitors in places of public accommodation display captions.  In 2019, without the knowledge or support of HLAA NYS, such a bill was passed and signed into law – but is so weak, in our view, as to be virtually useless.  It requires only that captions be displayed upon request and on only one TV monitor in establishments with multiple monitors, and contains no provisions for complaints or enforcement. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, HLAA held preliminary discussions with a member of the New York City Council and her staff regarding items 3 and 4 above.  Our view is that if regulations can be adopted along the lines proposed that it then will be somewhat easier to achieve the changes on a statewide basis.