Hearing impairment is a condition wherein the ability to detect certain frequencies of sound is completely or partially impaired. In humans, the term hearing impairment is usually reserved for people who have relative insensitivity to sound in the speech frequencies. The severity of a hearing loss is categorized according to the increase in volume that must be made above the usual level before the listener can detect it. In profound deafness, even the loudest sounds that can be produced by an audiometer (an instrument used to measure hearing) may not be detected. Individuals with hearing impairment can use a hearing aid. A hearing aid is an electro acoustic device which typically fits in or behind the wearer's ear, and is designed to amplify and modulate sound for the wearer. Even though, many people with hearing loss can benefit from a hearing aid, there are a small percentage of patients who cannot afford one. Luckily, there are several organizations and charities all over the world that offer free hearing aids to people who meet the criteria. In general, a patient will require a doctor's diagnosis to meet the criteria. In addition, verified financial requirement is also essential.
What are the various organizations that provide free hearing aids?
Each of the following charitable groups has its own requirements and application process. A person may need to apply to several of them before he/she find one that can help him/her.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation: The Starkey Hearing Foundation helps people around the world, providing free hearing aids to hard-of-hearing and deaf people who cannot otherwise afford the devices. The foundation does over 100 hearing mission trips across the globe, annually, providing more than 20,000 hearing aids to the people who need them. Starkey is based in Minnesota, and Matlin has been involved with them for about seven years. The group does trips to third world countries around the globe, but helps many all over the United States also. The Celebrity Apprentice, Marlee Matlin has been raising funds for The Starkey Hearing Foundation. Marlee has already raised more than $1 million for The Starkey Hearing Foundation through her efforts on The Celebrity Apprentice. On April 10, 2011, the episode of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” featured a check presentation in the amount of $1,000,000 to Bill Austin, Chief Executive Officer of Starkey Laboratories and Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. The presentation was made on behalf of the show and Donald Trump, Host and Executive Producer of “The Celebrity Apprentice”, by Marlee Matlin, cast member and Leader of Team A.S.A.P.
Audient: If a person earns more than the federal poverty level but still have financial problems, Audient can help. Their task is to aid those people without coverage who cannot be qualified for federal aid.
The First Hand Foundation: This international aid society provides medical help to children throughout the world. Children living in low-income households can be eligible for free or low-cost hearing aids, if they have no insurance. Also, First Hand accepts applications year-round. It is vital to ensure that a person is approved before he/she purchases a hearing aid. First Hand does not provide reimbursements after the fact.
The Disabled Children's Relief Fund: This organization assist child with hearing disabilities that don't have health insurance. If a child qualifies for it, he/she could get a grant covering the cost of a hearing aid. Applications are accepted from April to September.
Hear Now: Hear now is funded by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, Hear Now provides free hearing aids to low-income children and adults. If some one is accepted into the program, administrators will work with his/her doctor to cover the entire costs.
Miracle Ear Children's Foundation: The makers of the Miracle Ear hearing aid also sponsor a charity program for low-income children. Qualified applicants are given hearing aids free of charge. However, recipients cannot be older than 16 and applications are very closely inspected.
Easter Seals: Easter Seals has been helping people with disabilities, for almost 100 years to get the resources they want. Their hearing assistance program is for children under the age of 21. The association works with doctors and nurses, rather than patients themselves. Easter seals can help a disabled person to gain access to free hearing tests, hearing aids, cochlear implants and other surgical procedures.
Sertoma: This national organization has more than 600 local chapters. One of its charities is a countrywide hearing aid recycling program. In addition, its local chapters every now and then fund the hearing needs of individual patients. Sertoma offers $1,000 scholarship for college students with a hearing disability. Sertoma works with local hospitals and non-profit organizations to get free or low cost hearing aids to those who are in need. If a person sends an email to firstname.lastname@example.org including the name and contact information, the local chapter will contact him for further process.
Lion's Club International: The Lion's Club has a hearing aid program for both children and adults. It is also known for its bighearted vision care assistance. Although, it usually doesn't give them out for free, one may be able to get one at very low cost. The best way to use this service is through a local chapter. There are thousands of them around the country. A person should be able to find one in a phone book. One can contact the local Lion's Club by phone or email and ask about the LCIF program. This is a program that the Lions offer to low income or uninsured persons who cannot afford a hearing aid but are in dire need of one. There are a few sheets of paper that must be filled out, and a few sheets the physician has to fill out. After it is returned to the Lion's Club, they will select the right candidates and consecutively the patients have the opportunity to choose the type of hearing aid they want from a list of ones they propose to pay for.
Rotary International is a worldwide service organization: This organization is made up of 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. They provide various health services, including free hearing aids.
Miracle-Ear® Children's Foundation: Helping children under the age of 14, Miracle-Ear® Children's Foundation serves residents of the United States and Puerto Rico by providing free hearing aids in addition to support services.
One can contact the local Shriners, Moose Lodge or Fraternal Order of The Eagles and inquire about the charity work they provide for hearing aids. The President or member can present all the paperwork associated with the opportunity that they are able to assist with and possibly give the required phone numbers to other places that help out.
Also, the local Health Department can help paying for hearing aids. They can offer a list of local hospitals or clinics in addition to non-profit organizations that will help in some way or other to help afford the hearing aid.
Schools and government health and rehabilitation services for children or people with disabilities, such as Medicaid in the United States, may also be able to lend a hand. Sometimes, Implant centers also have charitable programs that can help patients to a greater extent.
How long will the process take?
These days, finding these programs in the internet is simple and quick. They all have their own Web sites. However, it is important to remember that the application process can be lengthy. It often takes people several months to find the help they wanted. Stay patient and stick with it. Improvements in the hearing will be well-worth the wait.