2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

MLK QUOTE TYPOGRAPHIC

Important hearing aid consumer education legislation is moving through the Washington State Legislature as part of the current 2019 Winter/Spring session. Below is information about the bills and how you can add your voice in support greater hearing access in our state.

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Support 2019 legislation now!

During the 2019 legislative session, Let’s Loop Seattle is advocating for Telecoil and Bluetooth Consumer Education Legislation for Hearing Aid Buyers. Joining us in supporting this bill are the Hearing Loss Association of America–Washington State Association, the Washington State Senior Citizen’s Lobby, the Washington State Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH), and many other organizations, offices and individuals. See the complete list.

Please download our flyer and feel free to send it to legislators, venues, audiologists, organizations, and anyone who needs more information.

Senate Bill 5210 and its companion legislation, House Bill 1078, require any person fitting or dispensing hearing aids to educate their customers – prior to fitting – of the uses, benefits, and limitations of telecoil and Bluetooth technologies.

This page, which will be updated throughout the winter/spring 2019 Washington State legislative session, provides you with the following information:

  • Current Status including legislators, organizations, and individuals who are supporting HB 1078 and SB 5210, and where the bill is in the legislative process.
  • Essentials including why this bill is needed, a downloadable informational flyer, bill language, personal testimonials, Frequently Asked Questions and how to address misinformation. You can also learn how this legislation is a win, win, win for all stakeholders, including consumers, audiologists/dispensers, businesses and more.
  • A Guide to Advocacy including contact links, guidelines for effective communications, and sample letters.

Current Status

Senate Bill 5210 has been introduced for the Washington State 2019-20 legislative session and and is now in the Rules Committee.

Next steps

  1. The Rules Committee can either place the bill on the second reading calendar for debate before the entire body, or take no action.

House Bill 1078 has been introduced for the Washington State 2019-20 legislative session and is now with the Health Care & Wellness Committee. Efforts will likely be directed toward SB 5210 instead of this House Bill, but please check back for updates.

Next steps

  1. The respective committee studies the bill and may hold public hearings on it. It can then pass, reject, or take no action on the bill.
  2. If passed, the respective committee report on the bill is read in open session of the House, and the bill is then referred to the Rules Committee for review.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Big-Thank-You

Legislator support, as of 2/12/2019

House Bill 1078 Primary Sponsor:
Representative Laurie Dolan, 22nd DistrictSecondary Sponsors, Representatives
Shelley Kloba, 1st
Mike Sells, 38th
Laurie Jinkins, 27th
Sherry Appleton, 23rd
Nicole Macri, 43rd
Roger Goodman, 45th
Beth Doglio, 22ndAdditional legislator support
Michelle Caldier, 26th
Eileen Cody, 34th
Senate Bill 5210 Primary Sponsor:
Senator Guy Palumbo, 1st DistrictSecondary Sponsors, Senators
Barbara Bailey, 10th
Christine Rolfes, 23rd
Claire Wilson, 30th
Emily Randall, 26th
Sam Hunt, 22nd
Mona Das, 47th
Karen Keiser, 33rdAdditional legislator support
Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee (majority passed)
Randi Becker, 2nd
Senator Conway, 29th
Steve O’Ban, 28th
Manka Dhingra, 45th
David Frockt, 26th
Kevin Van De Wege, 24th
Annette Cleveland, 49th

Organization and Agency Support, as of 2/12/19*

This legislation is also supported by

  • Hearing Loss Association of America
  • Hearing Loss Association of America–Washington State Association
  • Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby – unanimous support of 34 member agencies
  • Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH), Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA), Washington State Department of Social & Health Services

*See complete list.

Essentials

Why is this legislation important?

People with hearing aids must have a telecoil-enabled hearing aid or CI – and know how to use it – in order to wirelessly connect to hearing loops and other ADA mandated public Assistive Listening Systems (ALSs). Without understanding telecoils, people with hearing loss might not choose the best hearing aids for their needs and lifestyle, nor experience the full functionality of their hear­ing aids. And they might not gain full public communication access, despite investing perhaps thousands of dollars in their hearing aids.

Telecoils are the bridge between a hearing aid an an FM, infrared, or induction loop public ALS.

How this legislation is a win for everyone

Consumers: Dealing with hearing loss is difficult, but telecoil and Bluetooth technologies enable people with hearing loss to gain greater communication access and to live life more fully and safely. This legislation mandates consumers receive the information they need to make an educated choice.

Audiologists and hearing aid dispensers: As trusted advisors, audiologists and hearing aid dispensers can build patient loyalty and trust, and a good reputation, by helping consumers make an informed choice. By sharing information about telecoils, Bluetooth, and assistive listening systems, consumers have the opportunity to hear more easily, in more locations. Simply put, an educated customer is a happy customer.

Community at large: Hearing friendly communities benefit from including people with hearing loss. Bottom line: more citizens with telecoil-enabled hearing devices means greater participation across civic activities, including government services, healthcare, education, places of worship, and civic and arts centers.

Friends and family: When people have, and know how to use, telecoil-enabled hearing aids, they can join family members and friends at public events and have shared experiences and memories.

Business and Public Venues: With an investment in an ADA-mandated ALS and more telecoil-savvy consumers, a business can welcome more patrons and customers with hearing loss—and their friends and family who accompany them. Inclusive spaces are a wonderful way for a business to express its commitment to making an equitable, welcoming community for everyone.

graphic orange access rectangle

America is getting in the loop! Many businesses across the country have invested in loops and other ALSs. To find hearing-friendly businesses near you, check Loop Finder and ALD Locator. And to read more about the Get in the Hearing loop National Campaign, click here.


A guide to advocacy

It’s super easy to support these bills.

  • Review and share this HB 1078 / SB 5210 informational flyer with legislators, people with hearing loss, and hearing loss advocates.
  • Read the complete and original bills, as introduced to the House and Senate, respectively.

House Bill 1078      Senate Bill 5210

  • Read personal stories of how telecoils in hearing aids have made a significant difference in the lives of people with hearing loss, and why people are supporting these bills. Share your own story with your legislator and on our Loop Seattle Facebook page. Include 2-3 statements specific to your experiences and thoughts in support for the bill.
  • Get answers to Frequently Asked Questions about HB 1078 and SB 5210, such as “What’s a telecoil anyway?” and “Will the bill increase taxes or costs?” and “Why both telecoils and Bluetooth technology?”
  • Use the Washington State Legislature website to comment directly on the bills.

House Bill 1078       Senate Bill 5210

You can use this 1000-character as an example when you enter your comment. We encourage you to share your own personal experiences and thoughts, too.

I strongly support this consumer-friendly telecoil bill. This bill will empower people with hearing loss to embrace the full functionality of their hearing aids and help them live, work, travel, worship, and play independently, as others do.

Hearing aids are vital communication tools for people with hearing loss. Yet too many people leave their hearing aids at home because they don’t know how to use their telecoil to hear better in public. Telecoils are the key to accessing public assistive listening systems like hearing loops. But hundreds of venues in Washington are inaccessible to people with hearing aids who aren’t aware of their telecoils or don’t know how or when to use them.

This no-cost bill will  help people make the most of their investment in hearing aids—which can cost several thousand dollars—and to be able to hear clearly in places like King County Council, Town Hall Seattle, churches, the Metro Westlake station, the Federal Way Performing Arts & Events, Center, and more.


Be an advocate

Beyond actively supporting current hearing access legislation, you can help create hearing friendly communities in other ways, too. Visit our Be An Advocate page for support in asking for hearing loops in public venues and how to build a local hearing loop movement.

VictorwCheri ADA

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