Although over-the-counter hearing aids have been available for years, a recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling and subsequent regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) devices has generated more consumer interest than ever before. A forum in the December issue of Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups (Perspectives) showcases a variety of viewpoints on what the latest updates in OTC hearing aids mean to clinicians. You can read more about the forum, presented by Special Interest Group (SIG) 8, Public Health Audiology, below.

OTC Hearing Aids

The forum opens with an introduction by SIG 8 Editor Ishara Ramkissoon, who discusses the development of the forum and summarizes each individual study. In the next article, Coco and colleagues explore perspectives on OTC devices from the perspective of a hearing industry specialist, an audiologist, a hearing aid user/advocate, and a professor/researcher. The authors each approach the future of OTCs with optimism, while admitting that the full impact of OTC devices is unknown.

Then, Sheffield and colleagues provide context for the current state of OTC hearing aids and recommendations for audiologists, manufactures, and consumers. They caution that some available devices don’t meet the new FDA standards—and that audiologists must be able to identify quality devices to fit their patients’ needs.

Later in the forum, Coco outlines what a practicing audiologist should know about OTC devices, pointing out that OTC devices will affect the daily work of audiologists even if they don’t directly interact with the devices. She advises audiologists on how they can best support individuals who choose to self-direct their care using OTC devices, including by helping patients with the emotional and psychosocial effects of hearing loss.

Ramkissoon returns for the final article of the forum, discussing how graduate programs could include OTC devices in their curriculum. Ramkissoon also includes the perspectives of a group of audiology graduate students, breaking down major themes that these students discussed.

We’d like to thank Dr. Ramkissoon as well as all of the authors for their work in bringing this timely forum to Perspectives! You can see a video of Dr. Ramkissoon and author Laura Coco discussing the importance of the forum below.

We hope that the articles can guide audiologists who have questions about the FDA ruling and what it means for their daily work. The articles will be available for free until the end of 2022.

About Perspectives and OTC Hearing Aids

If you’re looking for more information on OTC devices, explore our OTC special collection. The special collection contains articles from the ASHA journals and The ASHA Leader as well as additional guidance from ASHA—including an OTC toolkit for ASHA members.

Keep an eye out for another post next week highlighting two more great forums in the December issue of Perspectives. SIG affiliates can read more than 40 additional articles from across ASHA’s SIGs in the latest issue of Perspectives.

Explore the Forum

Coco, L. (2022). Over-the-counter hearing aids: What the practicing audiologist needs to know. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(6), 1806–1811.

Coco, L., Strom, K., Cavitt, K., Eberts, S., & Johnson, J. A. (2022). Viewpoints on the implications of over-the-counter hearing aids. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(6), 1794–1801.

Ramkissoon, I. (2022). An introduction to the SIG 8 forum: Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(6), 1792–1793.

Ramkissoon, I. (2022). Graduate audiology education and student perspectives on over-the-counter hearing aid devices. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(6), 1812–1818.

Sheffield, S. W., Jacobs, M., & Ellis, C., Jr. (2022). Considerations for the over-the-counter hearing aid delivery model. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 7(6), 1802–1805.