The Committee for Communication Access was created to advocate for the needs and concerns of hard of hearing New Mexicans and is made up of hearing care consumers from throughout the state in partnership with the New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons. We recently had legislation introduced dealing with a problem where many hearing care professionals do not provide clients with sufficient information to make an informed decision on assistive listening technology prior to buying hearing aids.
With bi-partisan sponsorship from Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-12) and Rep. Gregg Schmedes (R-22) in the House and Sen. Candace Gould (R-10 ) in the Senate, our bill (HB0048) was passed and signed into law in 2019. The bill requires that the NM Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensing Practices Board enact a rule requiring hearing care providers to counsel clients in the technology available to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act in regard to assistive listening systems in public venues. The technology is or can be available in most hearing instruments and it provides a direct connection between their device and the assistive listening system of any public assembly facility that is in compliance with the 2010 revised terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA specifically mandates that all new or significantly upgraded assistive listening systems be hearing aid compatible and, currently, the telecoil found in most hearing aids and other hearing instruments dispensed by audiologists and hearing aid dispensers is the only technology that meets that ADA requirement. The way the bill was worded, if and when other technologies (for example Bluetooth) develop the necessary capability, they would already be covered by the New Mexico regulation.
In responding to the requirement to draft a new rule, the Board has developed not only a rule incorporating that requirement, it has also drafted a rule that requires a clause on all hearing aid and cochlear implant processor sales contracts that states that the counseling has taken place whether it, in fact, has or has not been provided. The CCAnm has taken exception to this proposal because, although it protects the sellers of the devices from spurious claims that the counseling did not take place, it does not provide sufficient protection to the buyer and, in fact, could have the effect of denying them the right to have their complaint heard should they claim they did not receive the required counseling. To ensure that the buyer is aware of the clause and the technology in question, the CCAnm has requested that the Board revise their language to require that the buyer initial the statement on the contract and indicate whether the hearing aids or CI processor being dispensed contains the technology in question.
The speech/hearing licensing board will hold a public rules hearing on this matter in October at which the CCAnm will again ask that they revise the language in the contract portion of their proposed rule. If that change is not made by the Board, then the CCAnm will determine whether or not to take the matter to the legislature to seek assurance that the rule provides sufficient protection to the rights of the consumer.
Click on the link below to access the results of our survey on the use of telecoils and captions and on consumer opinion on mandated counseling by hearing care providers for clients being fitted with hearing aids.
Click on the link below to access our survey on the use of assistive listening systems by Hard of Hearing consumers and the article reporting on it in Technologies for Worship Magazine.
Files containing the rules change expected to be presented in October and a comparison of the language to the CCAnm's recommendation can be seen by clicking on the icons below:
The revised language supported by the CCAnm has support from a growing list of hearing care providers, advocates for the hard of hearing and individual consumers. Click here to go to a page where the letters are posted. Any New Mexico resident interested in service on this committee should send an email to CCAnm@juno.com requesting consideration for membership and a short biographical sketch of his/her background. To learn more about hearing loss, hearing aids and the various other devices and technologies available to help those with hearing loss, go to www.LoopNM.com/HLInformation.html .
Click on the link below to access our survey on the counseling of first time hearing aid buyers on the telecoil technology that gives them direct access to the ADA mandated assistive listening systems found in most public assembly areas.gazine.
Click on the icon to the right to download and read the draft bill ..................................