Association to CDC: Include Hearing Loss in Disability Survey

The Hearing Loss Association of America is requesting a meeting with CDC and White House officials to address why hearing loss was not included in a state-based assessment on the prevalence of disabilities among U.S. adults.

About one-in-five, or 53 million, Americans have a disability, a recent study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found.

But that number doesn’t include 48 million Americans with hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), which took up the issue in a letter [PDF] to the White House last month.

The group requested a meeting with the director of the CDC, a White House representative, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, and others to correct the error.

“Excluding people with hearing loss is not giving serious consideration to hearing loss as a disability that has an impact on a person’s quality of life, ability to work, and to fully participate in society,” HLAA said in a statement. It added that hearing loss has been linked with an increased risk of falls, dementia, depression, and other conditions.

The CDC report, “Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type Among Adults, U.S., 2013” examined disabilities in vision, cognition, mobility, self‐care (needing help bathing or getting dressed), and independent living (needing assistance with running errands). It was conducted in an effort to help public-health programs reduce health disparities by better identifying the prevalence and demographics of different disability types among U.S. adults.

HLAA pointed out that hearing loss is listed as a disability that can substantially limit major life activity under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary in July.

“People with hearing loss have been denied communication access in hospitals and doctors’ offices, and by public programs such as Medicare, which does not currently cover the cost of hearing aids,” Anna Gilmore Hall, executive director of HLAA, said. “The release of the report comes on the heels of celebrations surrounding the 25th anniversary of the ADA, and we are stunned they failed to understand the impact of excluding hearing loss as a disability that needs to be addressed.”

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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