Investigating over-the-counter hearing technologies


Gold-standard hearing rehabilitative care typically comprises one-on-one sessions with an audiologist for auditory needs assessment, fitting and programming of hearing aids and related technologies and educational counseling and rehabilitation. While this model is the gold standard, not all individuals, particularly adults with milder forms of hearing loss, may require or desire this level of care. At present, however, hearing aids in the U.S. and most countries in the world remain medically regulated devices that can only be dispensed or sold through a licensed provider. Over-the-counter hearing aids that are directly available to consumers may represent an affordable and accessible means for helping adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.


At the recommendation of the White House President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 was introduced as legislation and passed in the U.S. in August 2017. By the year 2020, FDA-regulated hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss meeting explicit performance and safety criteria will be available to the public as over-the-counter products. Nicholas Reed, Joshua Betz and Peggy Korczak are currently focused on investigating over-the-counter technologies and how to integrate them into hearing care. Their research has focused on comparative effectiveness of technologies, the ability of consumers to adjust devices and approaches to servicing over-the-counter technology in audiology clinics.