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Recycle in the Hear and Now
Close to 40 million Americans have hearing loss, which affects people of all ages. Among the population over 65 years of age, hearing loss is the third most prevalent but treatable disease (just after arthritis and hypertension). For children, even mild hearing loss can significantly interfere with development of spoken language and performance at school.
Hearing aids cost an average of $3,000-$5,000 each, an amount far out of reach for some 7 million people in the U.S. who cannot afford the high price. Luckily, there are programs and organizations hard at work to collect, refurbish and distribute hearing aids for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and have no other resources to acquire them.
Sound Recycling Practices
Hear Now is a nonprofit that accepts any make or model of hearing aid, which can be donated to their hearing aid recycling program. If you wish to donate a salvaged hearing aid or other assistance device, securely pack up the donation and mail to the address listed on their website.
The Lions Club collects and distributes hearing aids, and is also a great option if you are looking to recycle eyeglasses. Over the past several years, hundreds of hearing aids have been provided to people who otherwise could not afford them. Read about their program and how to participate on their site.
The Sertoma Club is a national service organization with a mission to assist those with speech, hearing and language disabilities. Hearing aids are refurbished and given to those in need through the Sertoma Hearing Aid Recycle Program (SHARP). Given the multi-thousand dollar price tag on each hearing aid, these efforts provide tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. See their website for links to information in states such as Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.
The UW-Madison Department of Communicative Disorders also has an exemplary program to provide hearing aids and hearing services at no charge for people who have financial difficulty. Used hearing aids are collected from the public at local audiology clinics, funeral homes and at the Speech and Hearing Clinic on the UW-Madison campus.
Be on the lookout for a Hearing Aid Roundup near you sponsored by the Sertoma Club, or at universities such as UW mentioned above, as community awareness of recycling efforts is frequently promoted by such organizations.
Tips for a Hearing Aid Recycling Program
If you want to participate as a donor or think you are in need of assistance, remember a few pointers:
- Donated hearing aids are usually tax deductible.
- Devices are either reconditioned or are redeemed for a credit used to purchase reconditioned hearing aids.
- People generally need to meet each program’s audiologic and financial criteria to qualify for aid.
- Often times, applicants to certain programs must not be eligible to get hearing aids through another private, governmental or insurance provider.
Remember that any old appliance should be recycled responsibly, and even something that seems as insignificant like recycling an old house key could make a difference in someone’s life. Hear’s to that!