360 million people around the world have severe hearing loss, but social stigma and the high cost of hearing devices keep people from getting the help they need. Hearing aids can cost upwards of $5,000 each in the U.S. and aren’t covered by insurance, and in many countries, issues around hearing health are still pushed under the rug and shamed.
As a company that’s passionate about hearing health, Doppler Labs is committed to opening up more affordable and socially acceptable hearing health solutions. That’s why we’re joining with Global Citizen—a social action platform for the global generation—to launch #HereTogether, a movement aimed at bringing greater global awareness around efforts to prevent hearing loss, and in turn, promote innovation in hearing accessibility.
So, why now? Even though millions of people have hearing loss, and the numbers continue to rise, the problem is getting worse: 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are currently at risk of hearing loss, but innovation in hearing health and the social perception around assistive hearing technologies have remained painfully stagnant. This creates even more barriers to access, and it comes at a big cost: billions of dollars lost from decreased productivity, unrealized tax revenue, and expensive disability services. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
With the #HereTogether campaign, Doppler Labs and Global Citizen aim to bring greater awareness and education around hearing health through informative content and actions that Global Citizens can take to demonstrate their support. Already in the U.S., we’re beginning to see the tide turn. Last October, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a report in support of regulatory changes to promote innovation in hearing technologies, which immediately jump-started a national conversation about the issues affecting the hearing health community. Last month, Congress announced the introduction of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, a bipartisan bill that—if passed—would make certain hearing solutions available over the counter. And earlier this month, the FDA announced important first steps toward removing some of the barriers for hearing health care.
This issue is especially close to KR Liu, Doppler Labs’ Director of Accessibility and Advocacy, who has severe hearing loss. An advocate for the hearing loss community, KR is actively involved with industry organizations that are working toward innovation in hearing accessibility. In addition to her work at Doppler Labs, KR serves on the board of directors for both the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) audio division, and she’s also an ambassador to the World Wide Hearing Foundation. To help drive industry changes, she’s been working with key decision makers—including members of Congress—and speaking at The White House and United Nations to promote affordable and socially acceptable hearing health solutions.
There’s so much we can do to address hearing loss around the world. With your help, Global Citizens, we can bring greater awareness to hearing loss prevention, encourage innovation in accessibility, and promote de-stigmatization and inclusion in the hearing health community.
Join us in raising awareness about the importance of hearing health by taking action. Tweet your support, share your story, and let’s proudly be #HereTogether.