In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, today we’re announcing the Hear Together Project.
The Hear Together Project is on a mission to help everyone hear better, communicate effectively, and be part of the conversation.
Today, more than 1 billion people around the world have hearing issues and do not have anything to help them. This can range from mild-to-moderate hearing loss without the ability to afford a hearing aid, imbalance of hearing, trouble focusing on voices in noisy environments, and more.
The result is the inability to connect in the most fundamentally human way—with language. People who cannot hear well cannot be fully part of the conversation and are excluded. And later in life, inability to hear well can influence other senses and even has a higher correlation to Alzheimer's.
We are forming The Hear Together Project to holistically address this mission across:
- Awareness and advocacy: This starts with the Hearing Bill of Rights we are unveiling today.
- Legislative change: By ensuring our leaders in government are aware of the challenges in hearing health access and are part of the solution.
- Science advisory: To promote the importance of academic research in the conversation.
- Community engagement: To help bring people together to share solutions and experience.
- Inclusive product design: To inspire new solutions that can help on this mission.
The Hear Together Project is bringing together leading companies and organizations to join this cause. This will include supporters and founding members, who will be announced soon.
Hearing Bill of Rights
At Doppler Labs, we’re deeply passionate about creating technology that’s accessible to “all ears” and hearing types. That’s why we’re committed to helping open up more affordable and socially acceptable hearing health solutions. We also believe that technological innovation in this space can lead to more consumer choices, and in turn, be a major force in de-stigmatizing in-ear technology.
Everyone has a fundamental right to hear the world beautifully. This includes:
The right to affordable hearing solutions: No one should suffer financially just because of a disability. Many people are unable to afford hearing aids. For example, top-of-the-line hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars and often aren’t covered by insurance here in the U.S.
The right to accessible hearing solutions: High-quality hearing technology should be available over the counter, just like reading glasses. Current regulation favors a decades-old and inefficient process for buying hearing aids at the expense of millions of Americans living with hearing loss. Creating an over-the-counter hearing aid category will loosen regulations, and in turn, bring about more convenient consumer options at lower costs.
The right to wear hearing products proudly: No one should suffer emotionally just because of a disability. Everyone should hear how they want to hear, and that starts first and foremost with hearing products they can wear proudly. Hearing aids are getting smaller and smaller. Instead of helping the hearing health community, this pursuit of invisibility to “hide” these products perpetuates stigmatization and shame. With innovative, socially acceptable options, technology can help people with hearing issues gain confidence in all of their activities, rather than inhibit them.
The right to control how the world sounds: Not all ears are created equally—even your left ear can vary from your right ear. Whether you wear assistive hearing devices or not, you should be able to customize what you hear in the moment, no matter where you are on the hearing spectrum. For instance, this means being able to filter out the background noise in a loud environment, while simultaneously adjusting frequency and volume.
The right for hearing solutions that don’t cause hearing loss: Hearing solutions should protect your ears, not damage them. Almost 48 million Americans have age-related hearing loss, and yet, less than fifteen percent of them actually use hearing aids—and that hasn’t changed in forty years. And that doesn’t take into account the 1.1 billion young adults at risk of hearing loss. Consumers are waiting too long to protect their ears and address their hearing issues, either because they can’t afford hearing solutions or don’t necessarily want to wear them because of the associated stigma.
We can do better. With more affordable and socially acceptable options, we can give consumers a broader range of solutions so that they don’t put off getting the hearing assistance that they need.
The time has come. With forthcoming legislation like the bipartisan Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, we’re closer than ever before to creating new opportunities that will empower people in the disability community to live a better life. If you want to get involved, join us—tell your members of Congress to get behind the bill. With their support behind this critical legislation, we can bring greater awareness to hearing loss prevention, encourage innovation in accessibility, and promote de-stigmatization and inclusion in the hearing health community.